Gold prices fall sharply on profit-taking and a stronger U.S. dollar. U.S. stocks end higher on upbeat earnings reports. Gold last traded at $1,300 an ounce. Silver at $19.49 an ounce.
As millions of Americans rush to meet tonight’s deadline for filing their federal income taxes; gold has entered a correction, tensions continue to escalate in Ukraine and economic reports raise concerns about the health of the US economy.
The price of gold is off about 2% on technical-driven profit taking today after five days of consecutive gains. Despite the sell-off, there is evidence higher prices are in store.
Richard Ross, global technical strategist at Auerbach Grayson, says today’s correction is providing a good buying opportunity, as the charts are doing something they haven’t done in a while: flash a buy sign.
“There are some signs that make gold very attractive at these levels,” said Ross. “I’m not a gold bug per se but I do like a nice chart and I think that’s what we can see here with gold. It has a lot of things in its favor.”
Pulling out his fundamentals hat, Ross also sees a weaker dollar, lower interest rates and volatility in the equity markets as tailwinds for bullion.
One of the recent bullish indicators for gold has been rising Chinese demand, making China the world’s number one consumer of gold. According to the World Gold Council, that trend will continue over the next few years, with Chinese gold demand rising by another 20% by 2017.
Another factor that could potentially drive global investors to gold as a safe haven is the continuing tension in Ukraine. This tension ramped up yet again today as Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Ukraine was on the verge of civil war as the country launched a military operation against pro-Russian militants in the separatist East.
The government in Kiev is taking the battle to the restive East of the country after armed pro-Russian activists occupied administrative buildings in cities including Donetsk, a regional center of more than 900,000 about 62 miles from the Russian border. An attempt to head off the mounting insurgency may escalate tensions with Russia, which has 40,000 troops massed on Ukraine’s border after its annexation of Crimea last month.
In addition, a Russian fighter jet buzzed a US Navy destroyer in the Black Sea yesterday, making as many as 12 low-level passes over the ship in a clear effort at intimidation.
In more mundane economic news, new economic reports were released today which all show reasons to be concerned about the US economy:
• The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.2% in March, slightly higher than 0.1% economists had forecast. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said increases in the shelter and food costs accounted for most of the rise. Consumers are especially feeling the hike at the grocer where beef is at a record high and milk, and some vegetables, are also climbing in price.
In fact, beef prices are at their highest levels in 27 years and the drought in California is expected to drive fruit and vegetable prices up across the board anywhere from 14% for corn to 34% for lettuce in coming months.
• Confidence among home builders in the market for new, single-family homes remained in a holding pattern in April, ticking up just one point.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index rose to 47 from a downwardly revised reading of 46 the month before. The reading disappointed analysts who had expected it to rise to 49. A reading of more than 50 indicates more builders view market conditions as favorable than poor. In other words, more builders view market conditions as unfavorable or poor today than favorable.
• U.S. business inventories rose a bit less than expected as sales rebounded, suggesting a slow pace of restocking could weigh on economic growth. The Commerce Department reported that inventories increased 0.4 percent in February after rising by the same margin in January. Economists had forecast inventories increasing 0.5 percent in February.
Businesses accumulated too much stock in the second half of last year and are placing fewer orders with manufacturers while they work through the pile of unsold goods.
Add to these concerns; severe weather, the expiration of long-term unemployment benefits and food stamps cuts … all of which add up to a gloomy forecast for growth.