The precious metals traded higher on Wednesday morning amid an aggressive selloff of U.S. bonds and a brief hiccup in the push for comprehensive tax reform. Spot gold was up modestly to $1,263/oz, essentially where it began the session yesterday morning. Gold traded as high as $1,266 earlier in the morning, its best in two weeks. The yellow metal continues to hold onto year-to-date gains of 11.6%. The silver price added 7¢ (+0.5%) to $16.20/oz.
Meantime, the Platinum Group Metals rallied, with platinum gaining 1.0% to $920/oz and palladium advancing 0.7% to $1,020/oz. Commodities in general continued to march higher on Wednesday. Crude oil prices advanced 0.4% to push Brent crude past $64 per barrel and WTI crude above $57.80/bbl.
Stock futures pointed higher on Wall St before slipping into negative territory during early trading. The Dow Jones is still eyeing a new record high before today's session is over. European shares also sank lower with the exception of London's FTSE 100, which held around unchanged. Shares rose on Japan's two main stock indices, the Nikkei 225 and the Topix. The latter notched a 16-year high. Equity markets across the rest of the Asia-Pacific region saw modest losses.
The U.S. dollar was flat at 93.4 according to the DXY index. Both the euro ($1.185) and the pound sterling ($1.34) were slightly higher, yet the Japanese yen tumbled 0.35% to ¥113.3, its lowest in over a week. The Bank of Japan meets to discuss monetary policy tomorrow.
Treasurys have continued to fall sharply as the bond market comes into closer alignment with the interest-rate environment after this month's rate hike from the Federal Reserve. The 10-year Treasury yield is near 2.50%, a nine-month high, after five straight trading days of losses.
Progress on implementing far-reaching tax cuts is also underpinning Wednesday's market action. The tax bill in Congress is facing its final hurdle today. The measure passed the Senate by a narrow margin, but due to a procedural quirk it must be voted on again in the House of Representatives today. If Republicans in Congress succeed in getting the legislation across the finish line (ahead of their self-imposed Christmas deadline, no less), President Trump is all but certain to promptly sign it into law.
In the ongoing saga of this year's "hottest investment," bitcoin suffered its worst losses since futures trading of the cryptocurrency began. A rival altcoin known as "bitcoin cash," which forked off from the original bitcoin earlier this year, saw trading halted after surging better than 50% to an all-time high. While the nascent crypto market continues to be awash in confusion and speculation, the associated risks—including counterparty risk and the widespread use of leverage—cannot be ignored by regulators indefinitely.
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