Gold hit a new four-week high in early morning trading and the dollar hit a new two-YEAR low against the euro overnight. Signs of continued economic growth in China and a worse than expected U.S. unemployment report are the major news stories this morning.
The HSBC PMI for China (which is considered more reliable than official numbers) hit a seven-month high at 50.9, growing from September’s 50.2. The good cheer on the mainland was muted by what the government will uncover in its investigation of major banks. Chinese banks have tripled their bad loan writeoffs since the announcement of the government audits.
The PMI numbers were welcomed by Japanese and European stocks, even as EU banks are expressing anxiety over their own tests by the ECB. Chariman Mario Draghi has said he has no compunctions over failing any bank that doesn’t measure up. This is very worrying news for banks in Greece, Italy, and Spain. The good Chinese PMI news was dampened over not-so-good news at home, as the Markit puchasing managers PMI for the Eurozone fell a full point from last month, to 51.2. Analysts were expecting a gain of 0.2.
In the U.S., first-time jobless claims for last week were reported to have fallen by 12,000 to a total of 350,000 people fired. Analysts had expected the numbers to be better by 10,000 fewer applications. Some feel the numbers were inflated by federal contractors being laid off during the partial government shutdown. This is fueling the belief that the Fed will not stop pumping $85 billion a month in liquidity into the bond and real estate market before late spring at the earliest. The dollar is suffering greatly over the devaluation worries, and is lending strength to the recent gold rally. Once again, there’s a cloud to every silver lining, as depressed oil prices are seen as slightly bearish for gold. Crude prices are steadying after hitting recent four-month lows on decreased demand and high inventories in the U.S. The damage done by the government shutdown is being estimated to cut fourth quarter GDP by over half a percent, which is lowering expected oil demand.
Gold is continuing a climb in New York that started in London overnight. Silver is near yesterday’s highs, while platinum is being bid over the possibility of another miners’ strike in South Africa. Palladium, which has generally been the best-performing precious metal lately, had its overnight rally snapped by profit-taking in New York.