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Sun, Mar 24th, 2019
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Futures Market News and Commentary

Precious Metals Settle Mixed on Dollar Strength and Weak PMI Data

Apr Comex gold (GCJ19) on Friday closed up +5.0 (+0.38%) and May silver (SIK19) closed down -0.030 (-0.19%). Metals prices settled mixed Friday. A slump in stock prices boosted the safe-haven demand for gold. However, a rally in the dollar index to a 1-week high Friday limited the upside in gold prices, while global economic concerns weighed on silver prices. The U.S. Mar Markit manufacturing PMI unexpectedly fell -0.5 to 52.5, weaker than expectations of +0.5 to 53.5 and the weakest pace of expansion in 1-3/4 years. The Eurozone Mar Markit manufacturing PMI unexpectedly fell -1.7 to 47.6, weaker than expectations of +0.2 to 49.5 and the steepest pace of contraction in 5-3/4 years. The weaker manufacturing activity is bearish for industrial metals demand, including silver. Silver prices recovered from their worst levels Friday after U.S. Feb existing home sales jumped +11.8% to a 1-year high of 5.51 million, stronger than expectations of +3.2% to 5.10 million. Also, fund buying of metals has picked up after long silver positions in ETFs climbed to a 1-month high Wednesday and long gold positions in ETFs rose to a 3-week high Monday. Gold still has support from Wednesday's dovish FOMC meeting where the Fed cut its Fed-dot median forecast to zero rate hikes in 2019 from two hikes.Big Picture Gold-Silver Market Factors: Bullish factors include (1) the action by the FOMC to cut its Fed-dot median forecast to zero rate hikes in 2019 from two hikes, (2) expansive Bank of Japan and European Central Bank monetary policies, although the ECB ended its quantitative easing program in Dec 2018, (3) an easier monetary policy by China's central bank, which cut the bank required reserve requirement ratio by 100 bp on Jan 4, and (4) fund buying of gold as global geopolitical and concerns and stock market volatility have fueled demand for gold as a store of wealth. Bearish factors include (1) strength in the dollar as the dollar index recently rallied to a 1-1/2 year high, (2) tighter dollar liquidity as the Fed draws down its balance sheet, (3) slack inflation pressures after the Feb ISM prices-paid sub-index fell to a 3-year low of 49.4 and after the 10-year T-note breakeven inflation expectations rate recently fell to a 1-1/2 year low, which reduces demand for gold as an inflation hedge, and (4) the slower Chinese economy and US/Chinese trade tensions that dampen Chinese demand for industrial metals.
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