Good morning, traders. Welcome to our weekly look at the economic data calendar for the week ahead, and where it matters most for gold, silver and US Dollar markets.
Gold prices are a few dollars higher this morning, to sit above $1470/oz in the spot markets while silver prices are still trying to break back above $17.00.
The metals have rebounded from some weakness overnight, and the strong flow of buyers has coincided with a steep drop in US 10-y Treasury yields, which are sitting just at 1.8% at time of writing. This suggests the buying in precious metals, as well as a light sell-off in equities so far, is part of a general shift to risk-off positioning in the market to start the week. It may be that the markets are finally calling for something more substantive than “constructive” phone conversations when it comes to US-China trade talks.
The ongoing trade negotiations will remain our primary focus this week with regards to headline risk, while we also keep an eye out for any developments in the impeachment testimony in Washington that could push markets.
For now, let’s have a look at this week’s most important, scheduled data points.
US Economic Data to Watch
Tuesday, November 19 at 8:30am ET // Housing Starts (Oct)
[consensus expectation: +5.1% MoM // previous: -9.4%]
The month-to-month changes in Housing Starts has been unusually volatile lately—up 15.1% in August (after revision,) down 9.4% last month—which is not terribly helpful to its general role as a forward indicator of the US economy’s health. With analysts this month expecting a more moderate print, and one that corrects from September’s drop, I expect pretty low sensitivity in the markets to an upside surprise (at least anything in the single digits.) Conversely, even with all the feel-good rolling through the US stock market right now, another big decline month-to-month could shake the Dollar enough to perhaps boost gold prices moderately higher.
Wednesday, November 20 at 2pm ET // FOMC Meeting Minutes
Last month’s FOMC meeting not only included a third-consecutive quarter point cut to (apparently) round out the Fed’s “mid-cycle adjustment,” but also a material change in the language of the committee’s statement; changes that imply a more neutral stance for the committee through the end of the year. In the discussion minutes this week, we’ll be looking for details that give us more insight into those changes, as well as any clear signs of what the FOMC would need to see in order to consider rate hikes again—particularly with regards to inflation.
Thursday, November 21 at 8:30am ET // Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index (Nov)
[consensus exp.: +6.0 // prev.: +5.6]
It was mostly swallowed up by Friday’s retail data and the general risk-on mood of the morning, but last week’s Empire State manufacturing data was a bit of a disappointment, so we’ll look to see if any kind of speed bump shows up in the Philly Fed data as well. I don’t expect much market sensitivity outside of a really big dislocation up or down.
Thursday, November 21 at 8:30am ET // Initial Jobless Claims
[consensus exp.: +215k // prev.: +225k]
Over the last two weeks we’ve seen a new low, and then an unexpected burst in jobless claims; more importantly, we’ve seen Dollar markets (and gold prices) react to them. Now that we’ve worked an upside and a downside surprise out of our system, I suspect we’ll go back to seeing very little market reflex around Initial Jobless Claims until the longer-term trend starts to turn higher.
Thursday, November 21 at 10am ET // Existing Home Sales (Oct)
[consensus exp.: +2.0% MoM // prev.: -2.2% MoM]
As with Tuesday’s housing data, broad expectations are for a corrective rebound in Existing Home Sales for the month of October after a pullback in the month prior. Also similar to Tuesday, odds are there will be little market reaction to this data point.
FedSpeak This Week
With the release of the FOMC minutes on Wednesday, this week we wrap up the postmortem on the FOMC’s October meeting and its third-consecutive 0.25% cut to short term interest rates. Last week we had a reaffirmation from Vice Chair Richard Clarida that persistently sluggish inflation around the globe will have a complicating impact on the tools that central banks can use to fight a recession. Other than that, there hasn’t been much new information to glean from the last two weeks of public appearances by Fed officials. This week is less crowded than the last two have been, and any revelations from Wednesday’s release of the discussion minutes could change our focus points on the remarks that follow.
Monday, November 18: Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester (non-voter) (12pm ET)
Tuesday, November 19: New York Fed President John Williams (FOMC voter) (9am ET)
Thursday, November 21: Cleveland Fed President Mester (8:30am ET); Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari (non-voter) (10:10am)
Global Economic Data to Watch
Thursday, November 21 at 6:30pm ET // Japanese Inflation (Oct)
[consensus exp.: +0.3% // prev.: +0.2%]
Friday, November 22 at 4am ET // Euro Area Composite PMI (Nov)
[consensus exp.: 50.8 // prev.: 50.6]
We’ve touched on this over the last couple of weeks: these headline economic numbers tied to other major central banks outside of the US are worth keeping an eye on for now, as 2020 to could see us moving into a phase where US interest rates are kept in place while its global counterparts cut rates and/or restart easing measures like QE (as we’re already seeing in Europe.) As we’ve seen before, this dynamic would lend a lot of support to the US Dollar, putting a limiter on gold’s upside. While that’s a longer-term view, conversely we can expect to see buying of risk-off assets in the immediate term any time ex-US economic data gets particularly ugly.
For this week, analysts anticipating a small rise in Japan’s inflation measurements—although you can see how close they already are to zero; and consensus is for Euro Area PMI to just barely hang on above the sub-50.0 area that signals a contraction. There’s plenty of space to see some safe-haven buying in gold if either of these—but particularly Euro PMI—dips well below expectations.
And that’s your week ahead, traders. Along with the data flow, we’ll of course be keeping an eye on developments (or, more likely, rhetoric) around US-China trade negotiations and any other headline surprises that might come up. I wish you the very best of luck in your markets this week, and I’ll see you back here on Friday for a recap of the week.