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Marketmind: Gold glitters while traders look to Powell


Marketmind: Gold glitters while traders look to Powell By Reuters

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Published Mar 06, 2024 12:34AM ET
Updated Mar 06, 2024 01:33AM ET

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell holds a press conference following the release of the Fed’s interest rate policy decision at the Federal Reserve in Washington, U.S., January 31, 2024. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/File Photo

A look at the day ahead in European and global markets from Tom Westbrook

The upbeat tone that’s pushed stocks higher for weeks abruptly shifted overnight and left Asia markets drifting downward on Wednesday, with traders nursing losses and awaiting their next cues from Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s testimony before Congress.

Powell is expected to stick to his relatively hawkish script and reinforce that policymakers aren’t rushing to cut interest rates.

A mixed bag of U.S. economic data on Tuesday – slower services growth but a jump in new goods orders – further clouded an already fuzzy picture for rate policy. And overnight surges in gold and bitcoin to record peaks highlight a level of discomfort with inflation and debt that is pushing investors into assets with limited supply.

Central banks themselves seem to have turned gold bugs lately, some burned by paper losses in their bond portfolios, with ANZ analysts noting a near tripling of central banks’ share of world gold demand to 25-30%.

Spot gold flew as high as $2,141 an ounce on Tuesday and traded around $2,124 in the Asia day on Wednesday. Bitcoin broke above $69,000 before recoiling below $60,000.

Bank of America suggests that U.S. national debt rising by $1 trillion every 100 days is driving investors into “debt debasement” trades such as gold and bitcoin.

Around Asia, investors saw little in China’s latest growth and policy plans to provoke a shift in their caution over exposure to what’s been a laggard market for several years. Hong Kong stocks ticked higher and mainland stocks ticked lower.

Data showed Australian economic growth slowed to a crawl in the December quarter, reinforcing market bets that the next move in interest rates down under will be lower.

Results from Republican presidential nominating contests in a swathe of states showed Donald Trump brushing aside the challenge from Nikki Haley and marching on to a rematch with Joe Biden.

Euro zone January retail sales figures are also due, with economists expecting a steady reading after a sharp fall in December.

Key developments that could influence markets on Wednesday:

– Euro zone retail sales

– German trade balance

– Jerome Powell appears before Congress

– U.S. job openings

– Bank of Canada meeting

(By Tom Westbrook; Editing by Edmund Klamann)

Marketmind: Gold glitters while traders look to Powell

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