Precious metals are steady this morning, as reports from Ukraine reveal that a mob of 300 masked pro-Russians armed with automatic weapons attacked a Ukrainian national guard base with stun grenades and Molotov cocktails after the base commander refused their ultimatum to surrender. Three militants were killed and 13 wounded after they ignored shots fired over their heads and refused to disperse.
Russian president Vladimir Putin denied reports that Russian army operatives were assisting or leading revolts in eastern Ukrainian cities, though did admit publicly for the first time that the troops that ousted the government of Crimea and installed pro-Russian politicians in their place ahead of the referendum to join Russia, were, in fact, Russian Army troops.
Multilateral talks between the EU, U.S., Russia, and Ukraine have begun in an effort to defuse the situation. Pro-Russian forces, led by Russian special forces according to Ukraine, have seized some armored personnel carriers manned by Ukrainian troops sent to counter armed demonstrations in the eastern provinces.
Stock markets in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia will be closed tomorrow for the Good Friday holiday, so trading is expected to involve setting up positions to ride out the three-day weekend with an idea towards Ukraine.
In the U.S. first-time jobless claims rose 2,000 applications to 304,000 (last week’s numbers were revised upward 2,000). The four-week rolling average of first-time unemployment applications dropped 4,750 to 312,000. These numbers remain near the best level since before the financial collapse of 2008. Despite the good news, Wall St. opened in the red.
The dollar is down against all major currencies, though it’s decline was halted by the jobless numbers. The British pound is at a four-year high against the dollar, as the good economic news in Old Blimey keeps rolling in.