Stock index futures and the precious metals both were pointing lower this morning on a trading day that looks to have rather lower volumes due to the intersection of events on Friday: though markets will be closed in the U.S., the important monthly economic report about the employment situation will be released tomorrow morning, so investors and traders will likely stay on the sidelines for much of the day as they await the big news tomorrow. Equities did nudge into the green at this morning's open, however.
Yesterday in the Markets
Stock indices trickled into the red, making a solid push at the end of the trading session to close just 0.40% lower. The precious metals saw strong demand, with all four of the metals advancing yesterday.
Factors Affecting Gold Today
Some investors may be looking for quick profit-taking opportunities due to the relatively low volume on the markets today, playing contrarian to the herd that will likely pack their belongings and call it a week. Don't be surprised by some volatile movement due to this strategy. There should also be some action right after Fed Chair Janet Yellen speaks later today.
Much of the anticipation about tomorrow's employment data centers around momentum: although economic data in the U.S. has been choppy of late, a solid report tomorrow could lift the markets heading into next week. This is especially the case with the encouraging numbers being reported today. Jobless claims fell to a 9-week low, registering under 270,000 and beating many analysts' projections. The weekly average of new claims has steadied below 300,000 over the last month, an indicator of a firming labor market. Even though consumer spending has lagged, another report from the Commerce Department this morning showed that a drop in West Coast imports during February helped shrink the trade deficit to a 5-year low. By many measures, it was the weakest month of imports since 2011, which the United States' growing energy independence no doubt contributed to. The smaller trader gap is expected to be transient, however, as imports normalize and the deficit again widens.
Greece has reached an accord within its own political factions over the issue of whether or not the country will leave the euro area. While Prime Minister Tsipras and his anti-austerity Syriza party were elected on the campaign promise of not accepting the terms of the EU's bailout program, he has been forced out of pragmatism to form a coalition with Syriza's biggest opposition in an effort to save the country from exiting the euro. The Greek administration did submit a more substantial and detailed set of reform measures to eurozone finance ministers, though the list is still seen as somewhat lacking. Meantime, shares were riding high in the green across both Asia and Europe this morning.
U.S. markets are closed on Friday for the Good Friday holiday, although banks will remain open. Nonetheless, a broad set of employment data will be released at 8:30 am ET.