Gold continues to trade in a sticky narrow range, as neither good new nor bad news seems able to have more than a transitory influence. Silver caught a bit of an updraft overnight from copper prices, but is also trading in a tight range.
Another day of sharp losses in Tokyo markets drove global stocks into the red overnight, as the Nikkei index is now 20% below its recent high. The yen hit a two-month high versus the dollar, which tumbled to another four-month low overnight before rising on favorable economic data this morning. However, it is still trading under yesterday’s close. Chinese stocks hit a six-month low as well.
The euro is down slightly against the dollar, but still above 1.33 and near a four-month high. The World Bank has revised its estimate for global growth down to 2.2% for 2013, compared to the 2.3% rate achieved in 2012. The downgrade of the Greek stock market to emerging market status, continued high unemployment in southern European nations, and worries over China’s ability to grow led to the downward revision.
Good economic news this morning pulled Wall St. out of the red, as first-time jobless claims show that 12,000 fewer people were fired last week than the week previous. Analysts had expected the rate to stay the same, at 346,000, so the 334,000 print was a welcome surprise. The four-week average of first-time jobless claims dropped 7,250 to 345,250. Continuing unemployment claims last week stood at 2.97 million, with a further 1.7 million on emergency unemployment assistance. Retail sales were up a more than expected 0.6%, largely on auto sales.
This good news lifted U.S. stocks, which for once accepted good news as good news, instead of letting it fuel jitters over the Fed using improvement as an excuse to “take away the punchbowl” of quantitative easing. Markets worldwide will still show volatility as long as traders attempt to out-guess Ben Bernanke and the Fed on monetary policy.