Good morning, traders; welcome to our final weekly preview of the year. As with last week, the macroeconomic calendar, the schedule is a bit uneven, and trading volume will be thin because of a federal/bank holiday in the middle of the week. Unlike last week, we do have a couple meaningful points on the docket, and both of them fall on Friday.
To start the week, gold spot prices are on a slow rise to $1515/oz as major US stock indices and the US Dollar are slipping in light trading.
Trading volume will likely remain thin throughout the week with most US-based traders (and virtually all of their European and London-based counterparts) offline for the holiday. With ISM Manufacturing and an FOMC Minutes release on Friday, I do expect a slightly more “normal” market depth on Thursday and Friday this week but be aware that—like Christmas week—small initial moves higher or lower can be exacerbated by low liquidity on offer.
US Economic Data to Watch this Week
Tuesday, December 31 at 9am ET // Case-Shiller Home Price Index (Oct)
[consensus expectation: +0.3% MoM // previous: +0.4%]
Given that 1.) this is data reported on a two-month lag, and 2.) it has been a fairly stable data point in 2019, it’s hard to really get excited about it popping up on a dull holiday week. Still, there’s always the possibility that, if it comes in markedly better or worse than expected, computer traders might pick it up and generate a real move in risk markets like gold. So, for this month at least, the more important thing to keep in mind if the time that data will be released (9am ET, Tuesday) in case there’s a move, and not worry so much about the actual numbers.
Thursday, January 2 at 8:30am ET // Initial Jobless Claims
[consensus exp.: +220k // prev.: +222k]
The jobless claims number looked like it was calming down again last week, so I suspect we’ll be rotating back into a cycle of uneventful reports every Thursday.
Friday, January 3 at 10am ET // ISM Manufacturing PMI
[consensus exp.: 49.0 // prev.: 48.1]
The meaningful macro data of 2020 looks likely to get off to an ugly start this Friday, with ISM Manufacturing expected to remain in the sub-50.0 contractionary territory although analysts do seem to be anticipating at least an increase over the prior month. I expect some kind of movement around this release (assuming it’s not nailed on to expectations,) as a surprise number above 50.0 would put some pressure on non-Dollar safe haven assets like gold; meanwhile, any miss to the downside could see more positions rotating into the yellow metal and if it’s trading near a line of resistance at the time (say, $1525,) that could spur a rise higher.
Friday, January 3 at 1:15pm ET // Fed Governor Lael Brainard (FOMC voter) speaks
Gov. Brainard’s signal will be a little muddied by meeting minutes being released less than an hour after he is scheduled to make some public remarks, but it’s possible he (and some other FOMC member that are speaking at the same event) might lend some additional context to the parsing of the committee’s discussion from December.
Friday, January 3 at 2pm ET // FOMC Meeting Minutes
Honestly, I’m not sure what kind of market reactions to expect following this release of the discussion minutes from the Fed’s December conclave, at which they firmly positioned for an extended “Fed pause.” There’s a lot that analysts will be looking for context on: what changes would force the committee to return to either cutting or raising short-term rates, the reasoning behind the adjustments made (and not made) to the quarterly economic projections; but at the same time, it’s on a Friday. And at time when, even during a normal week, a lot of traders have already gone home. If there is going to be any kind of reaction in Dollar or gold markets, I expect it will happen pretty soon after the release. My advice is to be aware of the timing in case prices shift, but don’t spend too much time after that waiting for a move. If there’s anything remarkable in the minutes we’ll be sure to recap them on Friday, but more than likely it can wait until next week.
And that’s how our week ahead looks, traders. As always, I wish you the best of luck in your markets this week and in the first few sessions of 2020. I’ll see everybody back there for Friday’s recap of the market, and I’ll see about bringing a Bloody Mary Bar with me for anyone who’s still fighting off the New Year Flu.