The early signal on Monday morning was that the bulls in the gold market had taken the upper hand in the trade, as prices for the precious metals rose thanks to a modest impetus from the outside markets.
Spot gold was $8 per ounce higher to $1,235/oz when markets opened in New York, while spot silver gained more than 30¢ (2% higher) to about $16.80/oz. Platinum and palladium also posted solid gains of 2% and 1.5%, respectively.
The main action Monday morning came from the energy sector, as crude oil prices jumped higher following an announcement that Russia and OPEC leader Saudi Arabia both support extending the production cuts agreed to by the oil cartel (plus a few other key oil-producing countries) to at least 2018. Brent crude and WTI crude both surged about 3.5% into the green by 9:00 am EST, trading at $49.50/bbl and $52.50/bbl, respectively. Heating oil and gasoline prices also followed higher at the expense of natural gas prices, which plummeted nearly 2.5%.
However, as is typical for the crude market, this is not set in stone as policy and has merely shifted expectations. OPEC will actually meet to set its policy going forward in Vienna, Austria on May 25th. If the curbs on oil production are, in fact, not agreed to at the gathering, crude oil prices will undoubtedly fall right back down.
The dollar naturally lost ground with commodity prices rising. The greenback fell 0.4% on the DXY index to 98.8. Even as anxiety over the recent French presidential election has mostly abated, there is still a great deal of attention on the upcoming elections in Europe’s largest economy, Germany. Murmurs of planned hacking and international interference in the election have already cropped up, although the challenge to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party is not believed to be nearly as strong as the opposition was in France and the Netherlands. However, Germany’s close ties with Turkey and questions over the latter’s relationship vis-à-vis Russia and NATO.
Elsewhere around the globe, North Korea once again tested missiles over the weekend. This was predictably followed by a bellicose declaration that the country’s weapons are now capable of launching a nuclear warhead that can reach the U.S. Pacific coast. At the same time that tensions with the West continue to escalate, however, South Korea has just elected a president who supports more of a “Sunshine Policy” of greater dialogue and cooperation between the two sides of the peninsula, somewhat putting South Korea at odds with U.S. interests.
One of the largest cyber attacks in recent memory has been all over the news, and investors are of course taking notice of which companies and sectors were most affected. It seems that state governments and corporations have largely gained the upper hand on the would-be hackers. Overall, over 150 countries have reportedly been victims of the malware attack. According to Bloomberg News:
“The malware used a technique purportedly stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency. It affected the U.K.’s National Health Service, Russia’s Ministry of Interior, China government agencies, Deutsche Bahn, automakers Nissan Motor Co. and Renault, PetroChina, logistics giant FedEx Corp., and other company and hospital computer systems in countries from Eastern Europe to the U.S. and Asia.”
Given the swift response that appears to have stopped the cyber attack from spreading, markets ultimately shrugged off the breach. Stocks in the U.S. were about 0.3% higher in early trading while shares around the globe were mostly in the green.
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