Thursday, August 31, 2017

A reading for business activity

A reading for business activity across the Midwest was unchanged in August from the prior month, remaining at its lowest level since April, according to a report Thursday.
The Chicago Business Barometer, also known as the Chicago PMI, or purchasing managers index, stayed at 58.9 in August. Indexes above 50 indicate expansion while anything lower indicates contraction.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected the gauge to come in at 58.
"Following a sharp rise in the barometer to a more-than-three-year high in June, it isn't too surprising to see activity subsequently ease somewhat," said Shaily Mittal, an economist at MNI Indicators. "The disappointment comes from the employment indicator which once again contracted, the sixth time in the last 12 months, with fewer firms expecting an increase in hiring."
The inventories indicator fell below 50 during the month, hitting the lowest level since the start of the year, as some companies struggled to keep up with demand.
While the majority of respondents said their inventory levels were just right and around a quarter said they had too much, 16% said they had too little. This is a significant increase from the 2% who reported limited inventory when the same question was posed in November 2015.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Japanese yen is considered a safe-haven

The Japanese yen is considered a safe-haven asset, with the currency often showing volatility following geopolitical tensions. This has been the case this week, as the yen initially posted gains after North Korea fired a missile over Japanese territory on Tuesday, drawing sharp condemnations from Japan and the US. The easing of tensions since the missile launch has enabled the US dollar to recover and push above the symbolic 110 level. Still, if North Korea decides to fire another missile towards Japan, it’s a safe bet that the yen will gain ground.
Like other Western economies, Japan remains gripped with low inflation. This has resulted in the Bank of Japan keeping in place its ultra-accommodative monetary policy. Unlike the US and Europe, however, the BoJ has given no indications of tightening policy anytime soon, insisting that that inflation must first rise closer to its target of 2%. The economy is headed in right direction, as GDP has expanded for six consecutive quarters. In the second quarter, GDP impressed with a gain of 1.0%, well above the forecast of 0.6%. Still, with inflation nowhere near the BoJ’s target, the bank’s radical stimulus program is likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Gold for December delivery hit a new intraday high

Gold for December delivery hit a new intraday high of $1,313.30 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange today--its highest level since the US presidential election. "You caught a group of buys there," says Ira Epstein, a strategist at the Linn Group. "Gold is spiking because the central bankers really didn't do anything," he says. Many investors and analysts had been looking for clues about future interest rate increases from last week's Fed meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Some attribute recent dollar weakness to the lack of specifics from Yellen and ECB President Mario Draghi. A weaker dollar makes gold more affordable to foreign buyers.

Friday, August 25, 2017

USD/JPY has posted slight losses in the Friday session

USD/JPY has posted slight losses in the Friday session. In North American trade, the pair is trading at 109.26, down 0.26% on the day. On the release front, Tokyo Core CPI improved to 04%, edging above the estimate of 0.3%. In the US, durable goods reports were mixed. Core Durable Goods Orders improved to 0.5%, edging above the estimate of 0.4%. However, Durable Goods Orders declined 6.8%, weaker than the estimate of -6.0%. At the Jackson Hole meeting of central bankers, Janet Yellen has concluded her speech and the yen has responded with slight gains.
Federal Reserve Chair Yellen spoke at the Jackson Hole Symposium earlier in the day. Yellen did not take advantage of an ideal opportunity to address US monetary policy, choosing instead to discuss financial reforms, saying that measures put in place in 2007 and 2009 had been effective, adding that future reforms should remain modest. Her comments seemed aimed at a domestic audience, as her message to exercise caution comes at a time when President Trump is looking into wide-ranging reforms in the  industry. The pro-business Trump has complained that the financial sector is over-regulated and has said that he wants to ease current regulations.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Gold is on track to outperform stocks

Gold is on track to outperform stocks for the first time since 2011, highlighting the uncertainty that has accompanied this year’s stock market gains.
While a season of strong corporate earnings has powered stocks to record highs, investors are increasingly focusing on a cluster of issues that threaten to derail those rallies.
Many are worried about coming negotiations to raise the U.S. debt ceiling, an event that has roiled markets in previous years. A failure to raise the U.S. debt limit in a “timely manner” would prompt areview of the country’s credit rating, which now stands at the highest possible level, Fitch Ratings said Wednesday.
Others are nervous over a monthslong run of uneven U.S. economic data, which some are concerned could eventually drag down corporate earnings. Recent reports have shown some metrics, such as employment, holding strong while manufacturing falters and auto demand posts steep declines.
A stock market rally that hasn’t had a significant pullback in 19 months has amplified concerns that any correction could be swift and sharp, especially with valuations for many sectors near historic highs.
The worries have boosted prices for gold, a favorite destination for nervous investors who believe the metal will hold its value better than other assets when markets turn rocky.
Gold for August delivery is up 12.1% this year to $1,288.90 a troy ounce, while the S&P has risen 9.2%. Other indicators of investor anxiety, such as the Japanese yen, Swiss franc and CBOE Volatility Index have also risen in recent weeks.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Gold prices edged higher Wednesday

Gold prices edged higher Wednesday, lifted by a weaker dollar.
Gold for December delivery was recently up 0.2% at $1,293.60 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the U.S. currency against 16 others, was recently down 0.2% to 86.07. A falling dollar tends to buoy gold, which is denominated in the U.S. currency and becomes less expensive to foreign investors when the dollar declines.
At the same time, many investors are waiting for Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen's speech at the central bank's annual economic symposium at Jackson Hole, Wyo. on Friday, analysts at Kitco Metals said.
Signs that the central bank may be rethinking its plans for a third rate increase this year would likely lift gold, which struggles to compete with yield-bearing investments when borrowing costs rise.
In base metals, copper for September delivery was recently down 0.5% at $2.9730 a pound.

Monday, August 21, 2017

EUR/USD has edged higher in the Monday session

EUR/USD has edged higher in the Monday session. Currently the pair is trading at 1.1815, up 0.45% on the day. On the release front, it’s a very quiet start to week, so we’re unlikely to see any significant movement from the pair on Monday. There are no US releases, and the sole euro zone event is the Deutsche Bundesbank monthly bulletin. On Tuesday, Germany releases ZEW Economic Sentiment, which is expected to slow to 15.3 points.
The euro took a dip on Thursday, following a terrorist attack in Barcelona, which killed 13 and wounded dozens. EUR/USD dropped below the 1.17 line and touched 3-week lows. However, the euro has quickly recovered, and is trading at 1.18. Barring any geopolitical crises, such as another terrorist attack, we can expect a few slow days until the Jackson Hole summit on Wednesday. Both the ECB and Federal Reserve find themselves pursuing a less accommodative monetary policy, and the markets will be listening closely to Janet Yellen and Mario Draghi. Will Yellen hint at a December rate hike? Will Draghi provide clues regarding the windup of the ECB’s asset-purchases program? Any comments in this vein could be seized upon by the markets and trigger strong movement by the euro. This was the case in June, when Draghi spoke at a central bankers meeting in Portugal, and his upbeat comments about the euro zone economy sent the euro soaring.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Gold prices fall

Gold prices fall into negative territory on reports that President Donald Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon has left the White House. Gold for December delivery was recently down 0.1% at 1,291.40 after earlier hitting its highest level since November at $1,306.90. The Barcelona terror attack and uncertainty about the Trump administration's fiscal agenda had been supporting prices. Some say the long-term backdrop for gold is still positive even after the Bannon news. "I wouldn't read too much into that," said Bill O'Neill, co-founder of LOGIC Advisors. "There's still a myriad of potential events that can happen down the line that should prove bullish for gold,"