Investments

Sometimes, the incredible landscapes seen in pictures are much closer than tourists might think. The best example of this, is Svaneti: Georgian historical region that looks surreal. The mysterious beauty of the area starts from miles of green forests and the highest peaks of the Caucasus Mountains, that merge into deep blue sky.

Still, what does set this region apart from the other marvelous places of Europe?

First of all, located in the northwestern Georgia, Svaneti is the highest inhabited area in Europe. Svans, (the ethnic population occupying the territory) have been living there even before the Ancient Greek times. The first recorded information regarding the territory belongs to Strabo, a Greek geographer born in 63 BC. Svans have been a fierce warriors, so no wonder why there are a series of towers in the main villages. Due to the geographical position of the land, these sightseeing objectives were so well preserved, that they are still up today for curious visitors.

Of course, the towers are not the only architectural wonders filled with impressive history. Svaneti also hosts Orthodox churches. Even though, Georgians were Christianized in 4th century A.D. Svans kept old paganism and merged it with Christianity. A considerable amount of the buildings found in Svaneti, are now on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list.

Aside from the well preserved sites, tourists also come here to enjoy the natural landscapes. The top 3 highest peaks of the Caucasus mountains can be observed in Svaneti and the view leaves visitors speechless. Mount Shkhara is the highest mountain of the Georgian land at 17,059 feet high. Followed by, Tetnuldi 16,319 feet high and Ushba 15,453 feet high.

In addition to it, visitors have fun while horseback riding and trying local cuisine, while enjoying the breathtaking view. All these combined, turns Svaneti into a dreamlike holiday destination for anyone.

Photo by Eugene Gavrilov/Flickr

Photo by Eugene Gavrilov/Flickr

Photo by norrskensren/Flickr

Photo by norrskensren/Flickr

Photo by Eugene Gavrilov/Flickr

Photo by Eugene Gavrilov/Flickr

Photo by ლევან ნიორაძე/Flickr

Photo by ლევან ნიორაძე/Flickr

Svaneti, Mestia

Svaneti, Mestia

Svaneti, Mestia

Svaneti, Mestia

Photo by Brian Searwar/Flickr

Photo by Brian Searwar/Flickr

Photo by Richard/Flickr

Photo by Richard/Flickr

Oxes resting from their work (Mestia, Georgia) Photo by Frans Sellies

Oxes resting from their work (Mestia, Georgia) Photo by Frans Sellies

Photo by George Melikishvili/Flickr

Photo by George Melikishvili/Flickr

Mountains between Mestia and Ushguli, Svaneti

Mountains between Mestia and Ushguli, Svaneti

Mount Shkhara

Mount Shkhara

Shkhara & Enguri

Shkhara in morning

Shkhara

Shkhara

Lamaria & Shkhara

Lamaria & Shkhara

Mount Tetnuldi

Mount Tetnuldi

Mount Ushba

Mount Ushba

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Weekly Market Outlook

Weeklong rallies for global stocks and commodities ended as investors reassessed the outlook for economic growth ahead of a series of events that could set the tone on financial markets for the next six months.

The MSCI All-Country World Index fell for the first time in six days after reaching a six-month high, and the S&P 500 Index slipped from a 10-month high that took it within striking distance of a record. The Bloomberg Commodity Index was set to end the longest run of gains since March, as oil and metals fell. Bonds rose, with U.K. gilt yields declining to a record low. Emerging markets retreated.

The recent optimism that a combination of loose monetary policy and moderate global economic growth would bolster risk assets has apparently peaked, with the looming Federal Reserve meeting, followed by the Brexit vote and U.S. political conventions rife with the potential to roil markets. With stocks at multimonth highs, investors speculate there is little reason to push prices higher. Word that billionaire investor George Soros recently oversaw a series of big, bearish investments is also contributing to the tempered mood.

“With the market being priced where it’s at, there’s not a lot of room for air,” said Jim Davis, regional investment manager at the Private Client Reserve of US Bank, which oversees $128 billion. “I would not be surprised to see it back off a little more in the next week. The market has to navigate some choppy waters between now and mid-July, with the Fed next week and the Brexit vote the following.”

Stocks

The MSCI All-Country World Index lost 0.8 percent at 11:40 a.m. in New York, and the S&P 500 retreated 0.4 percent. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index dropped 1 percent.

The rally that took commodities into a bull market amid weakness in the dollar had pushed the S&P 500 within 0.6 percent of its record from May 2015, overcoming pessimism sparked by the weakest jobs growth in the U.S. since 2010. Since Friday’s jobs report, investors have seen little data to make further assessments on the state of the global economy. Data Thursday indicated U.S. initial jobless claims unexpectedly fell last week to 264,000.

Support this week has come from Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s remarks that the U.S. economy is making progress and indications that policy makers won’t rush to raise interest rates. Traders have cut back their bets for a Fed rate increase, now pricing in no chance of a boost in June. December is the first month with at least even odds of a rate increase.

Banks led the early decline as Treasury yields sank to the lowest since February, denting optimism for a rebound in lenders’ profits. Wells Fargo & Co. and Bank of America Corp. slid more than 2 percent.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index dropped 0.7 percent. Russia’s Micex slid 0.9 percent and India’s S&P BSE Sensex index lost 1 percent, dropping from the highest close since October.

Commodities

The Bloomberg Commodity Index erased earlier gains, putting it on track for the first decline in seven days. Brent crude oil fell 0.9 percent to $52.04 a barrel, heading lower for the first time in four sessions, as the dollar strengthened.

Gold for immediate delivery added 0.6 percent to $1,270.4 an ounce, while platinum, palladium, aluminum and copper all retreated.

Bonds

Treasuries rose, pushing the 10-year note yield to the lowest since February’s global growth scare, as renewed concern over lackluster economic expansion and a potential U.K. exit from the EU boosted the safest government securities. The 10-year yield fell three basis points to 1.68 percent.

The 30-year yield fell before an auction of $12 billion of the securities, which comes a day after an offering of 10-year notes garnered record demand from investors bidding through primary dealers.

U.K. governments bonds extended gains. The 10-year yield touched 1.22 percent, the lowest since Bloomberg started tracking the data in 1989. Bonds of the euro-area’s higher-rated nations climbed, with the German 10-year bond yield matching the 0.033 percent record low it first touched on Wednesday.

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, a gauge of the greenback against 10 major peers, gained 0.3 percent, snapping a two-day drop. The U.S currency strengthened about 0.6 percent to $1.1327 per euro and was 0.5 percent weaker against the yen.

As the Fed determines when to tighten monetary policy, HSBC Holdings Plc said buying the greenback before an eventual rate increase may be a “self-defeating strategy.”

The yen gained versus the euro, reaching its strongest level in more than three years, amid increasing doubts that the Fed will tighten policy in coming months helped boost demand for the relative safety of the Japanese currency.

New Zealand’s dollar surged to the highest level in a year as the prospect of continued central bank inaction at home and in the U.S. burnished the smaller nation’s interest-rate premium. The kiwi soared as much as 2 percent to 71.48 U.S. cents.

China, Hong Kong and Taiwan markets were shut for holidays.

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Weekly Market Outlook

Billionaire investor George Soros has become more involved in trading at his family office, concerned about the outlook for the global economy and the risk that large market shifts may be at hand, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Soros, 85, has been spending more time in the office directing trades and recently oversaw a series of big, bearish investments, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. Soros Fund Management LLC sold stocks and bought gold and shares of gold miners last quarter, anticipating weakness in various markets, according to a government filing.

A New York-based spokesman for Soros declined to comment in an e-mail to Bloomberg News. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported Soros’s decision.

The octogenarian and philanthropist, who built a $24 billion fortune through savvy wagers on markets, has taken a dim view of the world economy and particularly of China. In April, Soros said China’s debt-fueled economy resembles the U.S. in 2007-08, before credit markets seized up and spurred a global recession. Most of the money that banks in China are supplying is needed to keep bad debts and loss-making enterprises alive, Soros said at the time.

In January, the former hedge-fund manager said a hard landing in the Asian nation was “practically unavoidable,” adding that such a slump would worsen global deflationary pressures, drag down stocks and boost U.S. government bonds.

His bearish view prompted him to pare back his U.S. stock investments by more than a third last quarter, betting against the equities while banking on gold. The value of Soros Fund Management’s publicly disclosed holdings dropped by 37 percent to $3.5 billion at the end of March, according to a government filing in May.

Soros’s former chief strategist, billionaire investor Stan Druckenmiller, echoed Soros’s view on gold, saying last month that the yellow metal is his largest currency allocation as central bankers experiment with the “absurd notion of negative interest rates.”

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