Gold saw a small pop in early New York trading this morning, lifting prices to just above unchanged. This is a muted response to Thursday's big losses, which had spot gold finish the day down by $11 an ounce.
Markets across the board will be influenced by the fact that today is the last day of the week, the month, and the first quarter.
In the futures market, palladium is in first place on the Barcharts YTD Futures chart by far, ending the first quarter $115.50 higher-a gain of 16.89%. Silver is in the #2 spot, posting a 13.42% gain for the quarter. Gold ends the first quarter 7.61% higher, gaining $87.90 an ounce, while platinum continues to sink into the middle of the pack, with a 4.03% gain.
However, natural gas futures were the top performer for the month of March, up by 11.88%, as stockpiles shrink, and power companies replace outdated coal-fired generation plants with cleaner, cheaper, natural gas.
Stocks opened lower on Wall St this morning, as fund managers and others engage in a little portfolio repositioning for the end of the quarter.
On currency markets, the dollar is attempting to hold on to yesterday's gains, and stay above the 100 mark on the DXY dollar index against a basket of major currencies. Some of the headwinds for the greenback are coming from a British pound that took in stride this week's invocation of Article 50 in the EU treaty, which begins the UK's separation from the European Union.
In this morning's economic news, consumer spending last month came in lower than expected, even though consumer confidence is at 16-year highs. Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE), which is the Federal Reserve's preferred inflation gauge, barely moved last month as well. However, the year-on-year numbers show a 2.1% growth rate, up from 1.9% y/y in January. The more restrictive core PCE last month was 1.8%, below the Fed's target of 2.0%.
This number is not expected to prevent the Fed from raising benchmark interest rates for a second time this year, perhaps as soon as June.
Speaking of causes of inflation, crude prices are attempting this morning to hold on to sizeable gains recorded earlier this week. Reports of a high rate of compliance with oil production targets among OPEC and non-OPEC producers who inked a pact to reduce the global oil glut have helped support oil prices. Of course, expanding output from US fracking operations is blunting some of the positive effects from the agreement.
Going forward, French presidential elections and a widening probe into contacts between the Trump Administration and Russian operatives promise to be major drivers of political uncertainty (and gold prices) next month.
Luckily, April Fool's Day falls on a weekend this year, saving investors from the need to cross-check every bit of news to see if it's a joke. We will be back Monday to open the month of April and the second quarter of 2017.
The opinions and forecasts herein are provided solely for informational purposes, and should not be used or construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell any product