Happy Friday traders, one more big football weekend ahead! (Of course, in two weeks we’ll have the big marketing weekend, interspersed with a football game.)
But you’re not here for my ill-informed discussion of the NFL, you’re here for my slightly-better-informed discussion of metals and currency markets. So, on that note: What kind of week has it been?
Well, until the most recent overnight session, pretty calm. Gold prices followed up last week’s range-bound trading with another four market days with the fence posts only shifted slightly: between Monday and Thursday night gold pinged between strong resistance/support from $1288-1295/oz. Shortly after 4am EST this morning, we saw an object lesson in what any asset becomes more susceptible to that longer it remains in a tight trading range.
Having traded near the lows of the last four nights range, gold prices broke aggressively through support and at time of writing seems to have found a new floor ($1282/oz) and is trading around $1283. Silver has fallen in kind, and currently prices for sport trading at $15.40.
Absent any other real impetus for the movement we’re observing, it’s very likely the trading in gold and other major assets this morning is rooted in reports that began developing late on Thursday that US-China trade talks are starting to bring fruit and could result in lifted tariffs and easing tensions sooner rather than later. Asian and European equities markets took a strong leg up on the rumors and/or news, and US stocks have followed suit today, especially after some more specific details began to emerge. I make it a point to avoid editorializing here, but I do feel like markets are betting on “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” in a political environment that has repeatedly disproven that point. Because I’m not here to dole out investment advice, I can’t tell you if that means gold rebounds (or when) but I have very little confidence that the field would look as it does now for more than a few days.
The big story we saw coming this week was of course the continuing Brexit saga playing out in London. I’ll spare you the full recap of Tuesday’s vote—my teammate Ryan Page has a breakdown for you here. The main takeaway being that it was fairly uneventful for gold and currency markets (save for a wild day concentrated to GBP trading,) precisely because the result was comfortably priced in.
Looking ahead, having survived a tabled vote of “no confidence” on Wednesday, by law Prime Minister May has until Monday (1/21) to present an amended Brexit proposal that the parliament will approve. Given that the leader of the opposition party is refusing to negotiate with the PM unless she makes some major concessions while May is herself claiming a complete refusal to budge on the red lines that sunk the original proposal (and this is, of course, before anyone takes the EU’s side into account,) it seems virtually impossible for Her Majesty’s Government’s third try to be the charm. At which point, senior lawmakers in the House of Commons will take charge of Brexit negotiations from the Prime Minister. After that? It will probably be Tuesday. That’s about any body can say for sure about the future of the Brexit process.
Here on these shores, the economic calendar was mostly quiet as the White House and Senate continue the partial government shutdown. Both the Empire State Manufacturing Index and the PPI report on Tuesday further confirmed that US growth looks to have been slowing even before the shutdown; the release helped lift gold to its higher points within the weekly range. On the flipside, a small decrease in initial jobless claims, and an improvement in the Philly Fed Index provided more positive angles of the US economy. To wrap up the week, and perhaps create the most concern as the shutdown rolls on, this morning’s consumer sentiment report for the University of Michigan paints a negative and worsening picture in an environment where economists are projecting that each week or two of the shutdown may be stripping as much as 0.2% from Q1 GDP.
Also of interest this week, as written about by Mathew Bolden on Wednesday, was the continuing rise in palladium prices, which have outpaced gold by the ounce and at times today has sold for well above $1400.
Heading into next week, we’ll have a slightly busier economic calendar stateside (as has been the case this month, dependent on the status of the partial government shutdown) while seeing what may develop (or devolve) around trade negotiations with China. And, because everyone loves a soap opera that could materially shift the worldwide status quo in terms of trade, we’ll follow the next steps in the UK and EU’s negotiations as they begin to crystalize.
Until then, I hope you all enjoy your weekend and some good playoff football (or the pleasant avoidance of it.) I’ll see you all back here on Monday to breakdown the week to come.