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Gold Price Drops Further as US Consumer Sentiment Hits 7-Month High

US consumer sentiment was measured at 99.2 on the latest University of Michigan consumer sentiment index, an increase from 96.8. The result beat expectations, indicating an improvement in consumer’s confidence in their buying ability coming into the holiday season.

Key Takeaways

  • The UoM consumer sentiment index rose from 96.8 to 99.2, above expectations.
  • Current conditions rose to a yearly high of 115.2 and expectations rose to 88.9.
  • The report, added to a robust jobs report released earlier today, paints a positive picture of the state of the US economy.

Consumer sentiment beat expectations in the latest report. Consumer spending depends on a healthy labor market, and accounts for two thirds of US economic activity. With the release of upbeat labor news earlier in the day, the latest market data has offset recent concerns of the ongoing economic slowdown. While hiring has slowed and areas like manufacturing are suffering under the escalating trade war, the US economy continues its record-breaking period of expansion.

Current conditions rose to 11.52, a yearly high, and expectations rose to 88.9, the highest level since July. The rise in sentiment mostly came from upper-income households which saw more exposure to the uptick in stock prices seen late last month. Sentiment has climbed for four months in a row after hitting a three-year low in August due to trade war concerns among respondents.

The index for buying conditions showed household durables rise to the highest point in a year, and the healthy labor market is credited with boosting plans to purchase vehicles. US payrolls added 266,000 jobs vs. just 180,000 expected last month as striking General Motors workers returned to the workforce. Unemployment also ticked downward unexpectedly from 3.6% to 3.5

University of Michigan survey director Richard Curtin said, “Nearly all of the early December gain was among upper-income households, who also reported near-record gains in household wealth, largely due to increased stock prices and mainly benefiting retirement accounts.”

Inflation

Expectations for long-term inflation matched a record low, dropping to 2.3%. The Fed is expected to take note of this figure, as sub-target inflation is a main factor in the recent monetary easing policies that saw three rate cuts introduced in 2019. The Fed has indicated that it has no intention to introduce further cuts in the short term, and no rate increases are expected given the current market conditions.

Inflation expectations for 2020 dropped from 2.4% to 2.5%, still above the Fed’s target range of 2%.

Market Reaction

Gold prices have continued to drop, driven downward by a big miss in labor market expectations. Spot gold last traded at $1,460.76/oz, down -1.09% with a high of $1,477.97/oz and a low of $1,459.04/oz. The upbeat November jobs report saw 266,000 jobs added last month instead of 180,000 expected. Combined with the strong consumer sentiment report, traders have developed an appetite for risk, reducing the short-term use case for gold.