Precious metals dropped in early New York trading, as the emerging market meltdown seemed to stabilize, and fourth quarter U.S. GDP was reported to have grown by 3.2% on stronger exports. Consumer spending in the U.S. for the fourth quarter rose 3.3%, putting paid to the fears that the holiday season was a bust for retailers, though it seems the action was all online.
The news led Wall St. to open higher after a dismal last few days, assisted by surprisingly strong earnings from Facebook. The dollar, which was already showing strength in Europe on a lower euro and Fed tapering decision, gained even more on the economic news out of the U.S. The DXY dollar index was up over .6% in early New York trading. The much stronger dollar, coupled with major depreciation in emerging market currencies, is making gold more expensive for those that need it most. (Another reason “buy on the dips” is often good advice.)
In other U.S. economic news, first-time jobless claims last week rose by 19,000 applications, as 348,000 people found themselves without work. Analysts had expected numbers to stay steady from the previous week, at 330,000. The four-week moving average of first-time unemployment claims rose slightly, to 333,000.
Silver and the PGMs are also seeing pressure from a slowing economy in China, due to their many industrial uses. The HSBC Chinese PMI came in at 49.5, almost identical to the flash PMI released last week. This shows a slight contraction in the Chinese economy as the central government moves forward with plans to shift the economy from an export-dependent model to one that focuses more on domestic consumption.
Speaking of China, markets will be closed from January 31 to February 6th, in observance of the Chinese Lunar New Year. Hong Kong markets were only open a half day today, and will be closed through Monday, February 3rd. Asian markets were lower today, on both the shortened holiday hours, and concerns over the emerging markets in Asia after the Fed announced another taper in its bond buying, bringing the monthly purchases to $65 billion.
European stocks were lower, on emerging market worries, especially the besieged governments in Turkey and Ukraine, on the EU’s borders. Weak earnings helped the market trend lower as well.
Precious metals will be looking at emerging markets for safe haven demand during the Chinese New Year, with attention paid to India’s government, and any loosening of gold import restrictions, as well as platinum sector strikes in South Africa.