Spot gold hit a three-week high at $1,285/oz on Thursday, benefiting from somewhat weaker momentum in the stock market and a softer U.S. dollar. Silver prices coughed up early gains, trading 5¢ lower (-0.3%) to $16.94/oz.
Platinum edged higher to $931/oz while palladium slipped 0.2%, but still traded above $1,000/oz.
Wall St opened deeply in the red, due in part to an increase in jobless claims. According to the Department of Labor, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose by 10,000 last week to 239,000 new claims. Nonetheless, the unemployment rate is holding close to its lowest in 17 years at 4.1%. Apparently, the rise in filings (and therefore recent layoffs) is being attributed to the fact that claims from weeks ago are just now being processed after unemployment offices were closed during the two hurricanes earlier this fall.
Meanwhile, the dollar was off slightly to 94.8 on the DXY index on Thursday morning. The greenback recovered from steeper losses earlier in the session. The yen advanced 0.3% against the USD while shares across Asia pared gains from earlier in the overnight session. Asian markets are trading close to ten-year highs.
European stocks sank nearly 1% following disappointing earnings being reported by some of the region's biggest financial firms. This is shaping up to be the worst single-day performance for equities in Europe in two-and-½ months. Investors were nonplussed by the encouraging outlook for eurozone growth offered by the European Commission (EC). The commission was less optimistic about the forecast for the U.K. Meantime, Brexit talks will continue on Thursday, although nobody is holding their breath that the two sides will come any closer to reaching an amicable divorce.
In Washington, few are paying attention to the December 8th deadline for Congress to reach an agreement on a new spending bill. Like most years in recent memory, the proverbial can was kicked down the road until December for the spending issue. A protracted battle over the spending bill could lead to another government shutdown. This approaching deadline may play a part in congressional Republicans' eagerness to pass tax reform quickly.
Besides the precious metals, most commodities were lower during Thursday's session. WTI crude traded at $56.88/bbl while copper hit a one-month low. Interestingly, the World Gold Council (WGC) is reporting that global gold demand slumped 9% in the third quarter to its lowest in eight years. Jewelry demand remains by far the largest component of overall demand for gold, but the fact that prices haven't fallen further after such a bad quarter might suggest that investment demand is playing a larger role in price discovery.
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