Good morning, traders. Welcome to our weekly preview of the macroeconomic calendar, with a focus on those data points that are most relevant for precious metals and Dollar markets.
Gold prices are starting the week on the back foot, although the yellow metal has recovered from the strongest selling in the early morning hours. The metal’s weakness is driven by a continued rise in risk appetite, with global equities markets rising today and enjoying the lessening of last week’s tension between the US and Iran.
Silver is trading at $18/oz again to start the week, and the benchmark 10-year treasury yield sits just below 1.85%. While investors and traders will be thankful for a busier slate of economic news (and the first week for Q4 earnings reporting,) there remains potential for headlines to drive markets again; in particular, eyes will be on Wednesday’s scheduled signing of a “phase one” trade agreement between the US and China.
US Economic Data to Watch
Tuesday, January 14 at 8:30am ET // Consumer Price Inflation (Dec)
[(core CPI) consensus expectation: +2.3% YoY // previous: +2.3%]
[(headline CPI) consensus exp.: +2.4% YoY // prev.: +2.1%]
By all accounts, CPI inflation for December is looking pretty committed to allowing the Federal Reserve to maintain its current pause on adjustments to short term rates. So committed, in fact, that the less volatile, more scrutinized “core” measurement is expected to remain the same. Seriously, for much of the analysis on consumer inflation currently, the biggest factors being discussed include Nike raising prices, and a lowering of used car costs; important inputs to be sure, but not exactly the kind of thing that keeps Jerome Powell & Co up at night.
For its part, the headline number should show a mild uptick, thanks mostly to higher energy prices. All in all, I expect a pretty calm market around this release, barring any dramatic up- of downside surprises. There maybe be some immediate algo-driven trading around the print, but I don’t anticipate it having much of an impact on gold prices at the end of the day.
Wednesday, January 15 at 8:30am ET // Producer Price Inflation (Dec)
[consensus exp.: +0.2% MoM // prev.: flat]
If consumer price inflation is expected to be a snooze for markets, then you can usually assume PPI will be doubly so. Failure to see the least bit of upward momentum return to producer prices could go on to concern economists and analysts is the medium term, however. If mid-level data points on America’s manufacturing sector—of which we’ll get a few this week—continue to underwhelm, I believe we could see increasingly concerned market reactions (out of risk positions and into safe havens like gold) should the headline numbers like Manufacturing PMI continue to weaken.
Wednesday, January 15 at 8:30am ET // NY Empire State Manufacturing Index (Jan)
[consensus exp.: +3.6 // prev.: +3.5]
All of the previous paragraph applies here as well. The Empire index number has been more mostly stable, if uninspiring, since some summer volatility. Expect the read to continue its course this month.
Thursday, January 16 at 8:30am ET // Retail Sales (Dec)
[consensus exp.: +0.3% MoM // prev.: +0.2%]
The small slump in auto sales (used and new) that I mentioned earlier will weigh the headline number for Retail Sales down a bit but should be mostly countered by higher fuel prices. Core Retail Sales (ex. autos and gas) should get a smaller but still healthy increase from the usual holiday shopping activity. We know that a big part of the FOMC’s current outlook depends on continued healthy spending by the American consumer, so while Retail data won’t be particularly fascinating this month and as-expected print will contribute to confirming our outlook for unchanged rates in 2020.
Thursday, January 16 at 8:30am ET // Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index (Jan)
[consensus exp.: +3.1 // prev.: +2.4]
Expectations for the Philly Fed Index this month are about as subdued as those for the Empire State regional version. The difference here is that last month’s Philly number was a major disappointment and so I think there’s a higher chance of volatility here again. We may either see an over-correction to the upside that will pop the Dollar a bit higher, or we could see a continued drop towards 0.0 which would carry all the worrisome implications I mentioned for PPI and the Empire State Index above, driving some positions to seek the safety of gold vs. Dollar.
Thursday, January 16 at 8:30am ET // Initial Jobless Claims
[consensus exp.: +217k // prev.: +214k]
Friday, January 17 at 8:30am ET // Housing Starts (Dec)
[consensus exp.: +1.1% MoM // prev.: +3.2%]
The December round of housing data is a little oddly placed on a Friday this week as the reporting bureaus catch up from the new year. Arriving out of place at the end of a calendar week, this month’s read will probably be overlooked if it’s not a blockbuster or a worrying collapse.
Friday, January 17 at 9:15am ET // Industrial Production (Dec)
[consensus exp.: -0.1% MoM // prev.: +1.1%]
Of the mid-level manufacturing data on offer this week, IP probably carries the most weight; so, unlike some of the other data sets, it has some potential to move risk appetite: if it’s actual numbers dip much farther into contraction than expected there could be some noticeably Dollar weakness on Friday that would be a tailwind for gold.
Friday, January 17 at 10am ET // Univ. of Michigan Consumer Sentiment (Jan)
[consensus exp.: 99.3 // prev.: 99.3]
Despite the tension and worry the pervaded the markets last week, the segment that this consumer sentiment accounts for was still market by the steady march higher of stock prices. I do think that means there is a little more risk to the upside vs. consensus on this one, and that it will drive some softening in gold prices just ahead of the week’s close.
FedSpeak this Week
When previewing last week’s mild schedule of FedSpeak, we were taking a specific focus on what those key FOMC members might have to say about the possible economic impact of hot conflict between the US and Iran. This week, that threat appears to have retreated considerably, so the odds of any new news coming out of this week’s public remarks are low. That said, should we get some kind of surprise from Tuesday’s consumer inflation data then observers will be interested to see what some Fed officials may have to say about it. That’s a big “if,” but we’ll still list the highest-profile FedSpeak appearances.
Tuesday, January 14: New York Fed President John Williams (FOMC voter) (9am ET); Kansas City Fed President Esther George (non-voter) (1pm)
Wednesday, January 15: Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker (FOMC voter) (11am ET); Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan (FOMC voter) (12pm)
Friday, January 17: Philadelphia Fed President Harker (9am ET)
Global Economic Data to Watch
Wednesday, January 15 at 4:30am ET // UK Inflation Rate (Dec)
[consensus exp.: +1.5% YoY // prev.: +1.5%]
Now that the UK appears locked onto officially leaving the EU on January 31—and moving into another messy negotiation around the “final” separation immediately after—more traders will be focused on the vital signs of Britain’s economic health. There’s little of interest this week, particularly since expectations are for unchanged number from the prior month, but it will give us a baseline to compare to as the UK moves into what looks to be a turbulent first quarter of 2020.
Wednesday, January 15 at 5am ET // Euro Area Industrial Production (Nov)
[consensus exp.: +0.4% MoM // prev.: -0.5%]
IP numbers from the economies at Europe’s core all rebounded in November, which suggests that the data set for the common currency area as a whole will recover as well. Signs of the Euro Area pulling its manufacturing sector out of a slow dive will boost the already growing belief that 2020 could be a strong year for Europe’s economic growth. While, as a macro development, this trend would dampen risk-off positioning in gold and other safe havens, it would also imply a considerably stronger Euro. The added Dollar headwinds would provide increased support to the yellow metal’s pricing.
And that’s how the economic week looks ahead of us, traders. Hopefully it will all shake out a bit more calmly than last week; but expect headlines to remain the key drivers of commodity and currency markets for now. As always, I wish you the best of luck in your markets this week, and I’ll see you back here on Friday for our market wrap.