Although gold finished the week and the month on a down note, precious metals still out-performed equities for the first quarter of 2014.
Although COMEX gold beat the S&P 500, +6.74% to +1.59%, the big winner was palladium, with a gain of 7.92%.
On the equities side, the NASDAQ barely cleared a gain, at 0.03%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.34% for the quarter.
Gold, silver and palladium are trading near-unchanged from yesterday’s New York close, while platinum is moderately higher. Anglo American Platinum, is a show of resolve in stalled labor negotiations with South African labor unions, said that it would buy platinum on the open market to fill customer orders, even at a loss, if it ran out of on-hand stocks. This has woken up traders, who are establishing long positions.
Janet Yellen’s speech yesterday was considered dovish enough by the markets to lead Wall St. higher, and European markets followed suit today. Bond yields for Italy and Spain dropped today to multi-month lows, as signs of economic improvement in the EU are seen.
The Nikkei didn’t benefit from a weaker yen today, as a new national sales tax hike took effect. The Abe government raised the sale tax from 5% to 8%. Shanghai and Hong Kong stocks were higher, as official government PMI rose marginally to 50.3 from 50.2.
The dollar is weaker after Yellen promised long-term stimulus, even after the outright bond purchasing ends this winter. The euro was stronger versus the yen and the dollar.
Wall St. opened higher today, with the NASDAQ advancing twice as fast as the S&P 500 and Dow. A drop in retail sales recorded by both Goldman Sachs and the Redbook report was discounted by the market, since it was comparing Easter sales last year to normal sales this year. Easter is occurring later this year. Manufacturing PMI was down, to 55.5 from 57.1, and slightly below expectations. February’s number was the largest in almost 4 years, however, and 55.5 is still considered a solid number.
Non-farm payrolls are reported Friday, and will probably be the market-maker for this week, absent any geopolitical event.