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Gold Price Preview: September 30 - October 4

Good morning, traders. Welcome to Monday, and your look ahead at this week’s macroeconomic calendar as it relates to gold, silver and Dollar markets.

Gold prices are solidly lower this morning, having failed an attempt to retake $1500/oz just after last night’s global commodities open. Gold spot has broken below $1490, while silver spot prices have fallen through technical support at $17.50 to start the week.

The biggest drivers for this morning’s weakness in the precious metals (and similar risk-averse assets) look to be a stout US Dollar (which notched two-year highs as a weighted index at the end of last week) and the public (if not entirely convincing) walking back of Friday’s reports that the White House has been considering adding restrictive financial measures to the host of trade tariffs being weaponized against China.

The next moves in the US-Sino struggle will be a major factor in our tracking the markets this week, and as always will be the most difficult narrative to predict. We’ll also be following any developments in the impeachment inquiry that the US House of Representatives initialed last week, and the growing possibility of another government in the UK being dismantled.

It also bears mentioning that today is the final trading day of the month and of the quarter, so we may see some out of the ordinary positioning in gold and the Dollar as high-volume investors and institutions square-up their books.

With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at this week’s schedule.

US Economic Data to Watch

FedSpeak this Week

You’ll recall that we had a heavy rotation of appearances by FOMC members last week as well; with so much of the US markets’ attention commandeered by the darkening clouds of an impeachment inquiry as well as the state of US-China trade relations deteriorating (further) (again,) the only FedSpeak that really cut through the other noise was St. Louis Fed President James Bullard continuing to call for at least another 0.25% rate cut this year.

With the Jobs Report at the end of the week, it’s reasonable to hope that the economic news flow coming out of the White House will be less dramatic (famous last words), and we can put a little more attention to reading the Fed’s tea leaves. To help us with that, we’ve got the following public appearances by officials (among others—but these are likely to be the most relevant.):

Tuesday, October 1: Chicago Fed President Charles Evans (FOMC voter) (3:15am EDT); Fed Governor Michelle Bowman (voter)

Wednesday, October 2: New York Fed President John Williams (voter) (10:50am)

Thursday, October 3:  Chicago Fed President Evans (2:45am); Fed Vice Chair Randal Quarles (voter) (8:30am); Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester (non-voter) (12:10pm); Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida (voter) (6:35pm)

Friday, October 4: Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren (voter) (8:30am); Fed Chairman Jerome Powell (voter) (2pm)

And, for the hard data points this week:

Tuesday, October 1 at 10am EDT // ISM Manufacturing Index (Sep)

[consensus expectation: 50.1 // previous: 49.1]

August’s ISM manufacturing PMI data was an ugly bump for markets when, for the first time in well over two years, this key metric dipped below the breakeven 50.0 (As a refresher: > 50.0 indicates growth in the manufacturing sector, while < 50.0 signals contraction.) This month, with regional surveys still weak in some areas, the market consensus is for a halt to the downward slide of the last few months but not optimistic enough to call for a rebound.

Sluggish data from the manufacturing sector will continue to be a concern, at least in regard to judging the pace of expansion in this late stage of the economic cycle; but as long as inflation remains around current rates and the labor market is chugging along, I don’t believe that PMI data will be enough to compel the Fed into further action.

Wednesday, October 2 at 8:15am EDT // ADP Employment Report (Sep)

[consensus exp.: +140k // prev.: +155k]

The consensus of analysts has called for ADP to land around level of 150k for week’s reading, same as it did for the prior three months; of those three, however, only once was the actual number within 50k of the consensus. All that to say, it’s worth keeping an eye on this Wednesday release. I don’t anticipate much market movement if it lands right down the middle, but a miss like we’ve seen in four of the last five months will probably bring some degree of knee jerk move in Dollar and gold charts: a stronger number will boost the Greenback and weight on gold prices; a miss closer to 100k drives safe haven buyers into gold.

Thursday, October 3 at 8:30am EDT // Initial Jobless Claims

[consensus exp.: +215k // prev.: +213k]

Thursday, October 3 at 10am EDT // ISM Non-Manufacturing Index (Sep)

[consensus exp.: 55.0 // prev.: 56.4]

After I kind of went on a rant last month about the potential risk of the US service sector’s weakness starting to accelerate in the wrong direction, the August data actually rebounded a bit. Attempting to learn a lesson, I’ll avoid the temptation repeat myself (you can always re-read at the link above.) Still, the August data wasn’t a panacea, and the 12-month trend in services PMI is still clearly heading down and to the right towards that breakeven at 50.0, so a pullback this month is not out of the question. I anticipate the market’s reaction function to this PMI read will be very similar to that of Tuesday’s manufacturing-focused variant.

Friday, October 4 at 8:30am EDT // September Jobs Report

[non-farm payrolls consensus exp.: +145k // prev.: +130k]

[unemployment consensus exp.: 3.7% // prev.: 3.7%]

As opposed to the ADP reports on private payrolls, non-farm payroll data has moderated to come back in late over the last two months following the wild swings we saw at the start of the summer. The expected 145k jobs added would keep the US labor market marked to a decent pace and will likely bolster the more hawkish (or, at least the more “patient”) members of the Fed just as recent inflation data has done. That said, September labor data is typically a noisy round with conflicting drivers like the end of summer seasonal employment but also graduated seniors that took a summer of now entering the labor force in earnest. The biggest unknown variable is of course the US-China trade war—we just don’t have great visibility on how that persistent drag on the economy is passing-through to the labor market. It feels like a fool’s errand to try and tip you off to how this report will look and the reaction to expect from metals or the Dollar; the best practice is just to make sure it’s on your radar Friday morning (and read’s recap, of course.)

Global Economic Data to Watch

Monday, September 30 at 11:30pm EDT // R. Bank of Australia Interest Rate Decision

[RBA expected to cut short-term int. rates by 0.25%]

Australia’s central bank has not been one that I’m usually paying much attention to at this point in the global economic cycle, but given the Aussie economy’s particular sensitivity to China, I’m curious to see if the Antipodean bankers are seeing the negative effects we have anticipated as a result of the ongoing trade war, or if something else is happening in that part of the world’s economy. Because of those same ties, a more dovish result than expected from the RBA would send risk-off tremors through the system.

Tuesday, October 1 at 4am EDT // Euro Area Core Inflation (Sep)

[consensus exp.: +1.0% YoY // prev.: +0.9%]

With last month’s ECB delivering a more aggressive round of monetary easing than anyone really expected, there’s some room for Euro Zone inflation to remain subdued without the market shuddering too much. This month’s data will still set useful benchmark for comparisons once Europe’s new round of QE gets going in earnest, and because it’s Europe there’s always the chance that inflation has pulled-back further. In that case, expect initial gold buying in a Europe-based risk-off rally but ultimately Dollar strength if the Euro falters.

And that’s out look at the next five days, traders. I wish you the best of luck in the markets this week, and I’ll see you all back here on Friday for the weekly recap.