Gold and silver are trading near Friday’s closing numbers, while platinum and palladium are seeing modest gains. Rumors that Russia in negotiating with both China and Japan to sell a large amount of both platinum and palladium is supporting spot prices this morning. Japan reported today that its platinum imports in January rose at the fastest pace in three years.
Today is not only the last trading day of the month, but also the last trading day of the first quarter. In Japan, it’s the last trading day of the fiscal year. This is leading to a lot of action in equities as fund managers engage in a little “window dressing” by buying hot stocks ahead of the monthly report to clients.
Fed head Janet Yellen is scheduled to speak in Chicago this morning, and traders will be hanging on every word and inflection, trying to guess when interest rates are going to rise.
In other central bank news, the European Central Bank is set to meet this Thursday, with a press conference by ECB head Mario Draghi afterwards. Composite EU inflation was reported at 0.5% today, the lowest level in four years. Since troubled peripheral EU nations such as Greece can’t devalue the common EU currency to spark their economy, they are undergoing deflation. The inflation numbers are going to put more pressure on the ECB to start their own quantitative easing policies, especially now that Germany is on board with the idea.
On the currency front, the dollar is still mired in a tight range around the 80 mark on the DXY index. The euro has gained today, hitting a three-week high against the yen. The yen is weakening as safe haven demand eases, which is helping Japanese exporters. The yuan eased 1% from the PBoC daily fix, which should help Chinese exports.
Wall St. opened higher this morning, after closing in the red for the week on Friday. Euro stocks were in the green, as Ukraine fears subside and anticipations grow for ECB stimulus action. The Nikkei had a really good finish to a really bad month, thanks to the softer yen, and Hong Kong stocks got a boost from casino and banking stocks.
In international news, North and South Korea are shooting cannons at each others’ fishes, after a North Korean artillery exercise on the west coast decided to start launching shells into a disputed area of South Korean waters. South Korea responded in kind, with each side careful not to aim near each others’ islands.