Friday marked the last trading day before markets close for Christmas, so investors can expect low trading volumes in quiet pre-holiday trading. Spot gold edged up about $4 (+0.3%) to $1,270/oz, and gold futures continued to point higher. The silver price added 12¢ (+0.75%) to $16.22/oz. Platinum was also up $4 (+0.44%) to $920/oz. Meanwhile, palladium recovered from earlier losses to trade around unchanged at $1,029/oz.
After bitcoin nearly hit as high as $20,000 per BTC earlier this week, the cryptocurrency saw massive declines on Friday. Some are even characterizing it as a "crash." Bitcoin prices tumbled below $12,000, losing more than 24% this morning. Although this is unlikely to deter crypto enthusiasts, it represents the first major decline for the digital currency since futures trading opened in early December.
In other major news, yesterday's election in Spain's Catalonia region resulted in pro-separatist candidates winning a majority in the local assembly. This raises the possibility that the Catalans will again push for independence from Spain. The results caused the euro to fall 0.2% back to $1.185 while equities in Europe fell sharply.
Stocks on Wall St advanced about 0.2% in early trading. Shares in Asia closed mostly higher. The dollar inched higher to 93.4 on the DXY index and the 10-year Treasury yield was unchanged at 2.49%. Crude oil gave up some of the previous day's gains, falling 0.5% to $58 per barrel on Friday.
With light volumes and many traders already home for the holidays, markets showed only a muted response to a pair of economic reports from the U.S. Department of Commerce this morning. Durable goods order showed a 1.3% rise in November, although digging deeper into the numbers reveals a less impressive result. The transportation component of the measurement provided much of the lift as orders for commercial aircraft jumped 14.5%. The month previous it actually fell 15.8%. When this volatile category is stripped out, overall orders actually declined for the first time since April.
The Department of Commerce also reported its gauge of personal consumption expenditures (PCE), the government's preferred inflation measure. PCE met expectations at a 1.8% increase year-on-year, suggesting that inflation is marching higher but at a slower pace that policymakers would like.
In Washington, now that tax reform is finished and awaiting President Trump's signature, Congress turned its attention to other matters. Legislators reached a deal on spending that will keep the government funded with mid-January.
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