Precious metals are steady today, with palladium seeing modest gains. Gold closed at $1,291.30 yesterday, down $4.30 after recovering half of the smackdown which occurred on the Chinese market open. Silver closed at $19.54, while platinum and palladium were down on (false) rumors of an end to the South African platinum mining strike. Platinum closed at $1,405 and palladium at $782 after being subjected to a steep drop.
Speaking of the platinum group metals, it seems that imports by China are picking up. Tougher pollution restrictions and a growing auto industry are increasing demand for PGMs in the Middle Kingdom.
Metals prices are being helped by more weakness in the dollar, which seems unable to establish an uptrend or any safe haven demand over Ukraine. The European Central Bank was talking down the strong euro earlier today, which limited losses by the dollar.
Wall St. opened up, as traders looked to the S&P 500 to continue a winning streak this week. Euro stocks were up on merger and acquisition talk in the pharmaceutical sector, while the Nikkei in Tokyo gave up early gains on weak earnings reports. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was down as news of a corruption probe against the CEO of a major energy company hit the news. The Shangai index was up on news that the government would be relaxing capital requirements for rural banks, in an effort to help Chinese farmers. Ideas are also circulating on making borrowing by local governments more transparent, with the idea that Beijing will allow local governments to begin borrowing again.
Home prices in the U.S. for February were up 0.6% from January, and up 6.9% year over year. Good news for those who have been underwater in their mortgages. Existing home sales for February were down slightly from January, which was a terrible month for homebuying due to blizzards. Compared to last February, sales were down 7.1%, the steepest one-month decline in three years. No one wanted to move during the bad weather, which meant fewer homes for sale and fewer buyers.