Gold ticked up ever so slightly this morning as tensions between the U.S. and Iran sparked headlines after President Trump threatened increased sanctions via Twitter. Meanwhile, investors await this afternoon’s monetary-policy decision from the U.S. Federal Reserve.
The yellow metal shrugged off happy numbers from the Commerce Department as U.S. housing starts rose 12.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.36 million units last month. Industry forecasts had expected around 1.25 million to 1.26 million units. Also this morning, the Commerce Department reported 1.42 million building permits, beating the 1.31 million forecast. This report is important as an indicator of future construction activity.
In addition to the Fed, the Bank of Japan and the Bank of England are scheduled to announce interest-rate decisions today and tomorrow. Cuts could brighten gold’s luster as a hedge. Here are the key times for announcements, (all Eastern Daylight Time): The Fed is at 2 pm today, The Bank of Japan is at 10 pm tonight and the Bank of England should be out at 4 pm tomorrow.
While a Fed rate cut has been widely anticipated for months, investor sentiment about its likelihood has shifted in recent days. The CME FedWatch Tool put the probability of a Fed interest-rate cut at 70.4% this morning (vaulting up 20% overnight), with the same percentage predicting a 25-basis-point reduction. That compares with 92.3% a week earlier. The odds of no cut were 29.6% compared with 7.7% a week ago.
The European Central Bank cut interest rates deeper into negative territory last week, and ECB Chief Mario Draghi pledged an indefinite amount of quantitative easing to jumpstart the euro-zone’s economy.
The December gold contract rose 0.1% Tuesday to settle at $1,513.40 an ounce on Comex and was up 0.9% in the first two days of the week. Currently, the December contract is unchanged.
The yellow metal’s move to the upside came after bullion posted its third consecutive weekly loss last week as optimism about U.S.-China trade relations grew and as investors sought safe-haven assets after a drone strike on Saudi Arabian oil facilities over the weekend that ramped up geopolitical tensions.
Prices of the precious metal had previously risen to six-year highs on weak economic data, uncertainty over the U.S.-China trade war, fears of an economic recession and heightened speculation of monetary easing from central banks around the world. The world’s two largest economies are expected to hold high-level talks next month, and U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday that his administration could reach a deal on trade before the U.S. presidential election next year — or the day after the vote.
In other economic news, U.S. industrial production rose 0.6% in August, the largest gain in a year, according to Fed data released Tuesday. The figure beat expectations of a 0.4% increase in a MarketWatch survey. Output in July was revised to a 0.1% decline from a previous estimate of a 0.2% drop. The euro-zone consumer price index comes out Wednesday.
Silver outpaced gold, with the most-active December contract up 0.6% Tuesday to $18.14 an ounce on Comex. The metal has advanced 3.3% in the first two days of the week and has almost erased last week’s decline.
Spot palladium slipped 0.4% Tuesday and is down 0.7% this week, coming off a record last week spurred by possible labor issues in South African mines. Spot platinum gained 0.4% Tuesday and fell 0.8% in the first two days of the week.