Hello traders, welcome to our preview of this week’s trading calendar, with a focus on the macroeconomic data and market narratives that are mostly likely to impact gold prices, as well was pricing for the US Dollar and other correlated assets.
Gold prices had surged to new peaks in the overnight hours, driven on a wave of concern around Jerome Powell’s Sunday night appearance on 60 Minutes in which the Fed Chairman warned of prolonged damage to the US economy if the current crisis is not handled correctly from an economic and health standpoint. Also worrying markets, the US Treasury and White House over the weekend took steps to ratchet up the pressure around a looming trade war redux with China. Foreign markets saw gold spot prices run as high as $1765/oz.
The turn came in this morning in New York ahead of US stock markets opening, as US based traders elected to focus their outlook around the more sanguine of Powell’s comments last night, and on the reports of promising success in an early-stage trial of a vaccine against the rampaging coronavirus. US equity futures—and then the open cash markets—ripped higher on optimistic outlook, and the swing into risk-on markets that followed pushed the yellow metal hard from its tops as gold prices have given back the entirely of Sunday night’s gains and then some. With other safe havens like US Treasuries also enduring strong selling (the 10-year benchmark yield it back to 0.7% again,) gold price are currently trading at a loss for the week.
With an energetic start now behind us, let’s take a look at what lies ahead this week.
US Economic Data to Watch
Tuesday, May 19 at 8:30am EDT // Housing Starts (Apr)
[consensus exp.: -24.1% MoM // prev.: -22.3%]
Reporting data for April this week, we can expect to be in phase of the current economic crisis that puts greater pressure on new Housing Starts, hit by quarantine/lockdown restrictions slowing overall construction activity in the US. This data set right now has limited impact on gold prices—it’s primary role for us is as a leading indicator for the health of the US economy, but we’re already pretty clear on the current state of things. That said, how deeply the housing sector is damaged by the coronavirus lockdown will be key to modeling an outlook for the speed of economic recovery in the medium term.
Wednesday, May 20 at 2pm EDT // FOMC Meeting Minutes
The FOMC took no additional action in their March meeting, coming just a couple weeks after two emergency inter-meeting rate cuts to take short term policy rates to the 0% boundary. The committee instead focused their efforts on using the statement to reaffirm that the Fed is willing and able to continue supporting the US economy through the crisis and into to the most robust recovery possible. In examining the meeting’s discussion minutes, we’ll look for more color on the committee’s economic outlook and any information on what other tools the Fed has ready to use if needed. Gold prices have seemed fairly responsive to the promise of lowest interest rates for longer, which is implicit in any language from the Fed that suggests continued or increased monetary firefighting, so the yellow metal may have some upside potential here.
Thursday, May 21 at 8:30am EDT // Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index (May)
[consensus exp.: -40.0 // prev.: -56.6]
While the key regional surveys of the US manufacturing sector can reasonably be expected to remain in contractionary stress in the coming months, last week’s Empire State data set showed a bounce of off the April trough and one that surpassed expectations. Analysts generally expect a rebound in this week’s Philly Fed number as well. Last Friday’s data was overshadowed by the ugly Retail Sales report that came earlier that morning, so it’s tough to say what kind of pressure improving industrial surveys could have on gold prices in the coming months but we’ll get a better idea (or at least more data) on Thursday, presuming that morning’s Jobless Claims number doesn’t wreck the chart.
Thursday, May 21 at 8:30am EDT // Initial Jobless Claims
[consensus exp.: +2,425k // prev.: +2,981k]
Last week’s jobless claims number felt like a mild-to-middling hiccup, with the number coming in flatter to the previous week than economists had hoped; the disappointment and pursuant pullback from market risk was a strong driver in gold’s rally later that morning. This week we’ll hope to see the number resume a steady fall from the April peaks; a repeat of last Thursday’s performance could see another boost for gold and risk-off sentiment.
Thursday, May 21 at 9:45am EDT // Markit US (flash) PMI (May)
[(mfg.) consensus exp.: 38.0 // prev.: 36.1]
[(services) consensus exp.: 32.3 // prev.: 26.7]
Markit’s variant of PMI for measuring economic activity in the US is not expected to show the rebound in May’s data that we’re seeing (at least from New York, at the time of writing) in the regional manufacturing surveys, but even just a slight bounce—if it can be inferred that it will stick—could be cause for some risk-seeking celebration in markets on Thursday. A bigger rally is expected in the (arguably more important) services sector PMI. Both could present some headwinds to gold’s strong start to the week.
FedSpeak this Week
We’ve got a heavy dose of public commentary from important Fed officials this week, as we further flesh-out the general outlook held by the FOMC and what their key benchmarks will be for deciding to hold or increase their already massive monetary stimulus effort. Chairman Powell in particular has a big week, following last night’s TV appearance which has had a tangible impact on our markets so far today.
— Sara Eisen (@SaraEisen) May 18, 2020
Powell’s Tuesday appearance before the Senate could be particularly interesting as it’s tied to reporting on the effectiveness of the CARES Act and will see the Chairman appearing alongside Treasury Secretary Mnuchin who, as a proxy for the President, may attempt to oppose some of Powell’s better-grounded views. Here are the key scheduled appearances from Fed officials this week:
Tuesday, May 19: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell (FOMC voter) (10am EDT); Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari (FOMC voter) (10am); Boston Fed President Eric, Rosengren (non-voter) (2pm)
Wednesday, May 20: St. Louis Fed President James Bullard (non-voter) (12pm)
Thursday, May 21: New York Fed President John Williams (FOMC voter) (10am); Federal Reserve Vice Chair Richard Clarida (FOMC voter) (1pm); Fed Chairman Powell (2:30pm)
Global Economic Data to Watch
Japan has the busiest economic calendar of developed international markets this week following last night’s confirmation that the Japanese economy has fallen into a recession with the rest of us. The highlight will be Thursday night’s (in NY) inflation report but barring a total collapse these numbers are unlikely to push through to gold or Dollar pricing in a sustained manner.
Similarly, Europe is light for our purposes this week. Thursday brings a run of some important PMI data for the Eurozone and its key economies, so we’ll look for moderate price velocity there as gold has been trading more heavily in the early London hours in recent weeks.
And that’s how the week lays out in front of us, traders. As always, I wish you all the very best luck in your markets over the next five trading days and I’ll look forward to seeing you back here on Friday for our weekly market wrap.