March 21 2014

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PLY: Confusion as to quite what all those FTIL stakes are worth while CME launch lots of short-dated commodity products. Worries about Trans-Atlantic regulation brewing as the blamestorming begins. Barnier sabre rattles about currency forwards as the Future of CSDs in Europe is being defined. Swaps volume begins transitioning in size to the brave new world. Old wallet yields 100,000 Bitcoins, Canada moving on crowdfunding, BTC is allowed in China which also reports staggering commodity volumes while a ‘speed trader’ cites Sisyphus and neophyte analysts calm down as swap transition takes the time wiser hands always knew it would…

There’s a lot of useful stuff in here once again today, thanks as always for all the kind feedback and indeed welcome to all the new folk who have joined the inner circle this week, it all helps pay for the free daily newsletter as part of “The Exchange of Information.”

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Coming soon: China Liberalises

New: Neither Fit Nor Proper: The FTIL Fire Sale

FESE’s Alleged Fractious Factions…

2014 – A Year Of Unprecedented Executive Change?

The Dark Side Of EMIR Regulation

Boca Pool Side: A Remarkable Fraternal Exchange

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Public Markets

FTIL May Have To Dispose Of Holdings Worth Rs. 2,500 Crore (USD 409 Mln)
NDTV

FTIL will have to sell shares in MCX-SX, rival NSE, two non-functional bourses – Delhi SE and Vadodara SE – and MCX-SX Clearing Corporation within three months. According to market sources, the total value of FTIL’s holdings in these five entities is estimated at about Rs. 2,500 crore (USD 409 mln).

PLY: Interesting story but the math doesn’t add up for me. I wrote a Premium Post last night on the breakdown of the Great FTIL Fire Sale and unless I’m doing something odd with our Crore calculations (not unknown, my 10 million times tables are rubbish, Florin does them much better) there is value here but not circa 400 million dollars – in these assets anyway. Now, as to other exchanges…well anyway, read the Premium Post.

Stake In Foreign Bourses: SEBI Order May Put FTIL In A Tight Spot
The Hindu Business Line
FTIL Examining SEBI’s Ruling On ‘Fit And Proper’
The Economic Times

A day after market regulator SEBI told FTIL to sell its stake in stock exchanges, the company said it will examine various legal options before abiding by the SEBI order.

The SEBI order may now trigger action by other overseas financial market regulators. FTIL manages exchanges in Dubai, Mauritius, Bahrain and Botswana. Last September, DGCX issued a statement that FTIL is a minority shareholder in the exchange and holds two of five nominated board seats. It added that none of the directors of the exchange has any operational responsibility for the exchange.

Barring Botswana, the regulators of Singapore, Mauritius and Bahrain are members of IOSCO, just like the Indian market regulator SEBI.

PLY: IOSCO membership is neither here nor there really, how many nations will risk having India say a foreign exchange operator is not legitimate and then let the stakes stand? Ask the core civil service question: ‘does placing faith in a foreign exchange investor endanger my gold-plated government pension’? QED.

As to the FTIL legal defence, hmmm, “We will fight them on the beaches…” was rumoured to be attributed to Mr Shah but unfortunately this is his time to load up what he can at the Indian equivalent of Dunkirk and retreat. Any legal victories will prove pyrrhic. The FTIL exchange empire is expiring, perhaps in only 89 days…

Despite Jignesh Shah Woes, MCX’s Long-Term Business Prospects Solid, Say Analysts
The Financial Express

Despite near-term headwinds, Jignesh Shah-led commodity futures exchange MCX business prospects looks solid in the long term, said analysts, implying FTIL stake sale in MCX might go through despite interim delays.

Clarification from MCX

PLY: MCX Is a tangible business, MCX-SX needs surgery, their outlook right now is dramatically different… In a post FTIL era both MCX markets have the potential to thrive with a new-found investment confidence being nurtured.

Five Questions On LSE’s New Intra-Day Auction (subscription)
Tim Cave – Financial News

Financial News considers five questions raised by the consultation on a new auction period proposed by LSE.

PLY: I Have to admit this reads a bit like “five questions the LSE press office posited which they then answered.” I am sure that’s harsh but it didn’t exactly excite me. If you’re behind the curve on auctions, have a perusal.

O’Malia: If OTC Market Has Split, Blame Regulators (subscription)
Peter Madigan – Risk

If non-US firms are refusing to trade with US persons, it means “we have screwed up in the regulation somewhere,” says CFTC commissioner O’Malia. He hopes arrival of European rules will remove motive for market to fragment If claims of a regional split in over-the-counter derivatives markets are borne out, the blame will lie with global regulators, according to O’Malia.

PLY: Alas a situation led by the great fractious one Gensler in conjunction with a collective of pig-headed Europeans has not worked out well. Remarkable.

Europe’s MTF Problem (subscription)
Philip Stafford – Financial Times

Agreeing how global derivatives should be policed across borders has been one of the most difficult questions for markets regulators after the financial crisis. US rules have mandated that swaps trading be conducted on SEFs but regulators have wrestled with how they monitor US markets participants when they trade with overseas counterparties.

PLY: AKA big government knows best – the problem is that no big government wants to cede its inherent moral superiority to any other as foreigners are inherently lesser in competence by dint of not being “our” – big government.

Swaps Volume Rebounds After Switch To SEF Trading
Michael Ide – ValueWalk

The swap market has survived the transition to SEFs. The final regulatory tool put in place by the Dodd-Frank act to rein in the $693 trillion OTC derivatives market became mandatory on February 15, and despite an initial drop in trade volume swaps have recovered in the weeks since then.

PLY: The tea cup storm of transition fears which led to widespread concern amongst neophyte analysts and media appears to have concluded already.

SEC Weighs New Rules To Rein In Brokerages (subscription)
Andrew Ackerman – Wall Street Journal

U.S. securities regulators are gearing up to better guard the brokerage industry against financial stress.

PLY: Wise regulation means less leverage. Then again isn’t the level of bank regulation really where the ultimate stress in the system lies? After all brokers are not “too big to fail” although some may be somewhat leveraged. Turf wars are indeed a concern between regulators as the sagely Commissioner Gallagher notes…

Speed Trader Sees Sisyphean Task In High-Frequency Crackdown
Sam Mamudi – Businessweek

Mark Gorton knows what will happen on the day HFT computers get kicked out of NYSE.

“All you’re going to do is have a data center that’s across the street,” said Gorton, founder of the Lime Wire LLC music-sharing service and MD of Tower Research Capital LLC, one of the most prolific equity traders in America. “Everyone’s going to want to put their computers there.”

Gorton welcomed parts of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s new inquiry into speed trading, particularly its focus on preferential access to data. At the same time, Gorton says Schneiderman risks overturning years of progress by banning practices such as co-location, in which firms like Tower increase their trading speeds by placing their computers within feet of exchange data processors.

PLY: Sisyphean is the perfect word to describe the situation. If the regulators crack down incoherently (please forgive the thought that I may be so cynical, I’m merely exploring every angle from a risk management perspective!) I happen to think we are not far off having the Scooby Doo van refitted for wireless access and hence sitting across the street from the servers in due course. In Tokyo they will be black with darkened windows and a megaphone on top occasionally spouting pro-capitalist chants presumably.

JPX Derivatives Tipped To Tweak HFT Interest
Georgina Lee – AsianInvestor

The combined exchange group formed by the merger of TSE and OSE is set to complete integration of their derivatives markets, which may bolster interest from high-speed traders.

PLY: Hold that van order, looks as if JPX are still on target to keep HFT in their data centers…

EEX Exchange Council Welcomes Partnership With CLTX And Approves Introduction Of New Power And Gas Products
MondoVisione

On 18 March 2014, the first EEX Exchange Council meeting of the year was held in Geneva, chaired by Peter Heydecker. At the meeting, CLTX, which is a new member of EEX Group, was introduced to the Exchange Council and resolutions regarding the introduction of new products on EEX were adopted.

Private Markets

Bloomberg To Provide Subscribers With Markit’s PMI Indicators
Automated Trader

Bloomberg will distribute Markit’s Purchasing Managers’ Index data into the Bloomberg Professional service.

Luxembourg SE To Move To T+2 Settlement Cycle In October
MondoVisione

Luxembourg SE has announced that it plans to shorten its standard settlement cycle from 6 October 2014 onwards in line with EU moves to T+2 from T+3.

NSPOT Doubles Its Turnover In FY14, Adds New Members
Business Today

NCDEX Spot Exchange or NSPOT, an electronic trading platform promoted by NCDEX, has more than doubled its turnover in the current fiscal year on rising membership and an uptick in wheat trade, mainly from Food Corporation of India.

Mt Gox Finds 200,000 ‘Lost’ Bitcoins In Old Wallet (subscription)
Jennifer Thompson – Financial Times

Mt Gox, the scandal-hit Bitcoin exchange, has found nearly a quarter of the Bitcoins it previously said were lost or stolen after uncovering 200,000 units of the virtual currency in an old digital file.

PLY: It’s the equivalent of finding that weather-beaten summer wallet at the back of the cupboard during a spring clean, albeit in this case, there’s north of 12 million dollars nestling beside the business cards for souvenir shops and a quaint beach restaurant. Moreover, in the real world you’d be walking with a pronounced limp with 12 million in your pocket. So they’ve found 200,000, leaving only 550,000 missing…

A Crypto-Sting Operation To Find Crypto-Currency (subscription)
Ben Kesling – Wall Street Journal
Mt. Gox Lawsuit Judge Loosens Bitcoin Freeze To Chase Assets
Andrew Harris – Businessweek

Plaintiffs who have sued defunct bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox have launched an elaborate plan to get some of their crypto-currency back after gaining court approval Thursday. A federal judge on Thursday signed off on the proposal to find hidden assets of the Mt. Gox chief executive Mark Karpeles, after an unusual court hearing that included calling for testimony from the public in attendance.

“It’s kind of like a sting,” said U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman, with a grin, as lawyers presented their plan to trace what they allege are illegal transfers of bitcoin by Tokyo-based Mt. Gox’s CEO, Mark Karpeles. Mr. Karpeles didn’t respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

PLY: Mt Gox creditors are crowdsourcing the search for their assets. It’s not quite an Indiana Jones plot (yet) but it ought to be an entertaining quest to monitor online…

Bitcoin Isn’t Really Banned In China — & It’s Quickly Gaining Ground
Matthew Philips – Businessweek

Bobby Lee, the founder of China’s biggest Bitcoin exchange, BTC China, went on Bloomberg TV yesterday to knock down the false notion that virtual currency had been banned in his country. In December, China’s central bank issued guidance that bars financial institutions from processing transactions in Bitcoin. In other words, its not real currency: You can’t pay off your credit card though a bank account stocked full of Bitcoins. That’s essentially the same gray status that Bitcoin enjoys in the U.S.

Bitcoin’s Promise: A Financial Revolution The Web’s Been Waiting For
Jeremy Wagstaff – Reuters

Bitcoin may not be the messiah of a new currency its hardcore fans yearn for, but it may herald the deeper financial revolution the internet has been waiting for.

PLY: Yip. The banking/payments system is little different to that available to the famous stock market clerk Charles Dickens and the leviathan dinosaurs of payment are moving closer to extinction day by day no matter how much silicone lipstick they apply to their analogue pigs.

Bitcoin May Die But The Technology Could Survive
Forbes

James Rickards, author of the best-selling book Currency Wars, said that he doesn’t think that Bitcoin is a viable currency “for everyday citizens.” Rickards compared the virtual currency to human evolution. “Although Neanderthals died away, human DNA survived.”

PLY: Yip, as I said in my original Bitcoin presentation, the Copernican Revolution in cash

Bitcoin Must Create A Community-Backed FDIC
Cameron Keng – Forbes

Three months into the year and Bitcoin exchanges are having a rough start this year – considering Mt. Gox and Flexcoin’s failures. It’s important to understand that an exchange failing is not the same as a failure in Bitcoin.

PLY: Not sure I agree. Once we go down the line of FDIC’s then we end up with big government, and FannieBitcoin and FreddieMacCoin and…. consequences not thinking about. Not sure this argument is valid (yet) although if some want to create such a voluntary system, let them! Exchanges need a modicum of transparency and some CCP-like mechanisms as Jon Matonis has been positing at the Bitcoin Foundation.

Special Section: FTI, NSEL, India at the Crossroads

PLY: So, 89 days to go until FTIL are out of the exchange business. Gosh they must be busy with their advisors, JM Financial… Q.V. My Premium story outlining: Neither Fit Nor Proper: The FTIL Fire Sale

MCX and FTIL both off 1-ish percent today as we have a round of the usual sorts of NSEL stories…

Chary Denies Any Link To NSEL Scam
Business Standard

After reports of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) also looking at the role of Venkat Chary in NSEL case, the senior ex-bureaucrat said vested interests were trying to drag his name into the controversy, saying the charge was absurd.

PLY: The problem is that “vested interests” sounds a lot like how the average Indian views the regulatory complex… This is not a simple affair to unravel but the bureaucrats are demonstrating their inherent arrogance with the way they deal with the accusation. Unfortunately.

NSEL Scam: To Recover Lost Money, Investors Want Change In Money Laundering Act
Virendrasingh Ghunawat – indiatoday

13,000 investors of NSEL are getting restless with the slow probe of ED and Mumbai Police’s economic offence wing (EOW). Investors are concerned that whether these property attachments of accused companies would help them get their money back and if yes, when. As such, NSEL Investors Forum has shot off a letter to the Enforcement Directorate in Delhi with a request to amend its Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, in order to safeguard investor interests.

PLY: You can’t feed children with an attachment and nor does it pay the rent. Easy to see the concerns of the investors. Time for the EOW to start listing those attachments on eBay methinks…

Technology

Middle East Exchange Quartet Plan Trading Platform Migration
Elliott Holley – banking technology

As reported on March 19th, four Middle Eastern exchanges – Amman, Beirut, Tunis and Muscat – are to migrate to Euronext’s Universal Trading Platform, replacing the older NSC trading engine they are currently using.

UTP was introduced February 2009 as the core technology that Euronext uses for its own order books in Europe. The UTP platform will be delivered in a hybrid model which is intended to reduce the cost for smaller exchanges while still retaining the essential features.

LME Launches Real-Time Testing Platform For Trading Strategies
MondoVisione

LME has launched a real-time synthetic test environment for members and their clients, LMEstage.

First Derivatives To Collaborate With Pivotal Software On Big Data
Samuel Agini – Alliance News

First Derivatives, is collaborating with Pivotal Software Inc to deliver next-generation financial applications.

Products

CME To Launch Energy, Metal Weekly Options In April
Reuters

CME said on Thursday it will launch shorter-term weekly energy and metal option contracts beginning in April on crude oil, natural gas, gold, silver and copper weekly options on the trading floors and the Globex electronic platform effective Sunday, April 13 for trade date Monday, April 14.

PLY: Hmmm, trading floors. Sitting here in the sunny digital oasis of Poland today, I have to admit I had quite forgotten about such things – the exchange equivalent of western payment systems. Quaint but outmoded…and already bypassed by the growing east.

CME: Nymex Crude Spike To $199 Due To Trading-Floor Error (subscription)
Nicole Friedman – Wall Street Journal

Front-month crude-oil futures spiked to $199.35 a barrel around 2 p.m. EDT Thursday due to an error on the trading floor, according to exchange operator CME. “An inaccurate price in crude oil futures was entered in error by exchange staff on the floor today,” CME said in a statement. “The price was immediately corrected.” The Nymex contract for light, sweet crude for April delivery settled down 94 cents, or 0.9%, at $99.43 a barrel.

PLY: Storm in a keyboard. The issue is not that this error happens, frankly it’s that keyboard entries are so modestly few and far between in legacy open outcry markets. Although isn’t there some sort of data entry check switch for such things nowadays to alert as a big price jump is typed?

China Looks Beyond Commodity Derivatives With Equity Options Launch (subscription)
Justin Lee – Risk

Commodities have been the mainstay of China’s derivative markets so far but the launch of equity options on two of the country’s main exchanges could see this dominance challenged

Although the first commodity-linked futures contract in China was traded in March 1991 on the Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange, the development of other asset classes including equity-linked futures and options products has lagged markedly with the first futures contract referencing the CSI 300 index, an index of 300 Shanghai and Shenzhen listed A-shares, launched as recently as 2010 on the China Financial Futures Exchange (CFFEX).

As a measure of the dominance of commodity derivatives onshore, 66% of total commodity futures traded globally are on Chinese exchanges, with these exchanges making up three of the largest five commodities derivatives exchanges globally, according to figures from WFE. Index futures traded on CFFEX meanwhile make up 12% of total index futures volumes traded.

And while there are now over 30 exchange-traded futures contracts available onshore, there is still only one linked to equities with no onshore equity options market to speak of. This is set to change with the impending launch of equity index options on the CFFEX and single stock options on the Shanghai SE later this year as part of China’s push towards greater capital market liberalisation.

PLY: Incidentally I will have a brief note on Chinese liberalisation online imminently for Premium subscribers. The rise to prominence of Chinese commodity exchanges is staggering.

NCDEX To Launch Bajra Futures From April 1
Business Standard

NCDEX said it will launch futures contract in Bajra (pearl millet) from April 1.

The unit for trading and delivery for the contract will be of ten tonnes, while maximum order size of the contract could be of 500 tonnes.

JFX Gets Govt Nod For Coal Contract
Yayat Supriatna – Reuters

Jakarta Futures Exchange (JFX) has received government approval to launch the first coal futures contract in Indonesia.

Indexes

Corporate Default Swap Benchmarks Roll Into New Series in Europe
Abigail Moses – Businessweek

The latest series of indexes measuring the cost of insuring corporate debt against default started trading yesterday. Gauges of CDS on companies rolled into their 21st series. New benchmarks are created every six months when companies are added or dropped depending on their ratings, cost of protection and ease of trading. The Markit iTraxx Crossover Index was expanded to include swaps on 60 companies with mostly high-yield credit ratings from 50 in the previous version.

Europe Sees Record Swap Expansion as Junk Swells: Credit Markets
Abigail Moses – Businessweek

Europe’s junk-bond market, once considered a small outpost in the fixed-income world, is gaining relevance as growth exceeds that of the U.S. and bankers race to offer investors another way to bet on credit quality.

PLY: I hate to sound cynical but is it gaining relevance or just in a bubble due to QE? I suspect the truth is a bit of both. I discussed bonds in a premium post last week: A Bond Market Dilemma.

BVB: BET Index Family Indices Are Enhanced & New Ones Will Be Launched
MondoVisione

ET Total Return index to be launched in September 2014. BET Plus index to be launched in June 2014
Increased visibility and information flow for BET member companies as of January 2015 (etc).

PLY: Nice ideas but does the broadly dysfunctional BvB really merit such sophisticated indices given the fundamental failings of its marketplace and lack of investor trust/culture?

Career Paths

Reuters notes that Tel Aviv SE‘s board on Thursday approved the nomination of Amnon Neubach as the Israeli bourse’s new chairman after a seven-month search.

Neubach replaces long-time chairman Saul Bronfeld, who resigned last July amid a clash with the head of Israel’s securities regulator, Shmuel Hauser, over the best way to revive trading volume on the TASE.

FT notes that one of three men lined up to be deputy to Bill Gross, the chief investment officer of Pimco, quit on the day his appointment was due to be announced after becoming disillusioned with the famed investor’s stewardship of the bond fund management group.

Marc Seidner, a generalist fund manager who was interim head of Pimco’s equities business last year, resigned in January just hours before Pimco was planning to announce that Mohamed El-Erian, Mr Gross’s heir apparent, had himself decided to leave the company.

PLY: I am minded to suggest Pimco looks to be as tense as the Crimean border currently.

NZX will hold its 2014 Annual Meeting of shareholders on 16 May 2014.

NZX advises that the opening date for nominations for directors is today, 21 March 2014. The closing date for nominations for directors will be 4 April 2014. All nominations must be received by 5.00pm on the closing date.

Nominations may only be made by a shareholder entitled to attend and vote at the Annual Meeting. Nominations should be addressed to:

Bevan Miller
Chief Financial Officer
NZX Limited
P O Box 2959
Wellington 6140
Email: bevan.miller@nzx.com

STOXX Limited, a leading provider of innovative, tradable and global index concepts, announced that Matteo Andreetto has joined the company as global head of sales, effective immediately.

Zenium Technology Partners has confirmed the appointment of Matt Pullen as MD.

Financial Calendar

Today

CBOE $0.18 quarterly dividend payment
NZX $NZ 0.0160 final dividend payment

New announcements

CME Q1 2014 results Thursday, May 1, 2014
NZX will hold its 2014 Annual Meeting of shareholders on May 16, 2014

All forthcoming exchange / investment related events are now listed in our Events page.

Analyst Notes

TheStreet Upgraded ICE To “Buy”
LSE Upgraded By JPMorgan Chase To “Neutral” – GBX 1,962 Price Objective
Betfair “Neutral” Rating Reaffirmed By Credit Suisse – GBX 1,085 Price Objective
ICAP Price Objective Lowered By Credit Suisse From GBX 415 To GBX 395 – Underperform Rating

A full table of current analysis can be found on our Analyst Ratings page which is updated daily.

All Analysts, Banks and Brokers are welcome to contribute to this section.

Crowdfunding

Canadian Securities Regulators Propose New Crowdfunding Exemptions
MondoVisione

The Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), the Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority of Saskatchewan (FCAA), Financial and Consumer Service Commission of New Brunswick (FCNB), the Manitoba Securities Commission (MSC) and the Nova Scotia Securities Commission (NSSC) published for comment the Integrated Crowdfunding Prospectus Exemption (the Crowdfunding Exemption) and the Start-Up Crowdfunding Prospectus and Registration Exemption (the Start-Up Exemption). The proposed exemptions would, subject to certain conditions, allow both reporting and non-reporting issuers to raise money by distributing securities through internet portals.

Google-Backed Lending Club Brings P2P Lending To Business Loans
Leena Rao – TechCrunch

P2P lending marketplace Lending Club is announcing a major expansion today into business loans.

Lending Club business loans will range from $15,000 to $100,000 initially, increasing to $300,000 in the future. The loans carry fixed interest rates starting at 5.9 percent with terms of one to five years, no hidden fees and no prepayment penalties apparently the average interest rate on the platform hovers at around 12.5 percent currently.

Other stories

EC Response To ESMA On Classification Of Financial Instruments
MondoVisione

ESMA has published the response received from Commissioner Michel Barnier in response to its letter of 14 February regarding the classification of financial instruments as derivatives.

ESMA Letter 2014/184

PLY: Sabre rattling over currency forwards.

ESMA Launches Discussion Paper On CSD Regulation
MondoVisione

ESMA is calling for public feedback on possible content to draft technical standards on matters such as settlement discipline, CSD registration and requirements, including confirmation rules (acceptance or rejection of terms in good time before the intended settlement date) for trading venues and investment firms, as well as access to CSDs by other CSDs, participants and other market infrastructures.

A public hearing will take place on 14 April at ESMA in Paris, from 13h30 to 17h00.

The closing date for comments is 22 May 2014.

Discussion Paper 2014/299

PLY: An interesting event with a fascinating opening to create new CSDs under the latest EU regulations…

Is An SEC And CFTC Merger A Perfect Fit?
Philip McBride Johnson (former chairman of the CFTC) – FOW

From time to time, but repeatedly, a call goes out to combine SEC with CFTC.

Efficiency is often cited as a reason for the merger talk; or SEC is viewed as a larger, more experienced, and far better funded markets regulator. The latter point is undeniable; after all, the SEC is many years older than the CFTC, and its budget dwarfs that of the CFTC. But would a merger really produce more benefits than problems? I suggest not, for various reasons.

PLY: The Johnson forever linked to Shad outlines why once again it doesn’t make sense to have the cash market SEC swallow the CFTC.

How Commexes Can Bring Social, Economic Changes
Nilanjan Ghosh (Chief Economist at MCX) – The Hindu Business Line

PLY: Another worthwhile intervention from Mr Ghosh who is keen to advance the benefits commodity exchanges can (and indeed must!) bring to the Indian economy. An encouraging note on which to end the week…

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