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Oil Prices Surge on Trade Optimism; Qatar Exits OPEC to Focus on Natural Gas

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Crude oil rose sharply on Monday, buoyed by a confluence of free-trade and production-related news following a high profile G20 summit over the weekend.

The Start of a Resurgence?

The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) benchmark for U.S. crude futures rose $2.11, or 4.1%, to $53.04 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The January futures contract reached n intraday high of $53.85 a barrel. The London-traded Brent futures contract reached a high of $62.60 a barrel. It would later consolidate at $61.73 a barrel, having gained $2.27, or 3.8%.

Energy traders are growing more confident that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will enact policies later this week that will drain excess supplies from the market. The cartel is scheduled to meet Thursday in Vienna to set new production quotas.

Oil was also aided by a drop in the U.S. dollar, which makes commodities more attractive for foreign buyers. The dollar index (DXY) fell 0.2% to 97.04.

Qatar Exits OPEC

The oil-rich Gulf nation of Qatar announced Monday it is pulling out of the 15-nation cartel to focus on natural gas production. Sad al-Kaabi, the country’s energy minister, said the decision will come into effect next month, which means Qatar will attend this week’s production meeting in Vienna.

“Qatar has decided to withdraw its membership from Opec effective January 2019 and this decision was communicated to OPEC this morning,” al-Kaabi said, according to The Guardian.

The energy minister reassured markets that the decision was not based on its political rift with Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of OPEC. For the past 18 months, the Saudis have led a political and economic boycott of the tiny country, including a trade and travel embargo, over allegations that it supports terrorism.

Trade Tensions Thaw

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have agreed to de-escalate their trade war following a face-to-face meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina this weekend. President Trump announced that China will “reduce and remove” the 40% duties on American-made cars. In exchange, the U.S. will not impose higher tariffs on Chinese imports at the beginning of 2019.

“My meeting in Argentina with President Xi of China was an extraordinary one,” Trump tweeted Monday. “Relations with China have taken a BIG leap forward! Very good things will happen. We are dealing from great strength, but China likewise has much to gain if and when a deal is completed. Level the field!”

The truce will be in force for the next 90 days, allowing U.S. and Chinese officials to intensify bilateral trade talks. In the meantime, the U.S. will continue to tax $200 billion worth of Chinese imports at a rate of 10%. Trump had threatened to raise the duties to 25% if his meeting with Xi failed to achieve common ground.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 773 rated postsChief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi




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Commodities

Gold Loses Some of Its Shine on Profit-Taking

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Gold snapped a three-day winning streak on Thursday and was on track for its biggest decline since November, as investors took profits following the latest surge in prices.

Overbought Resistance

Gold for April delivery fell $11.60, or 0.9%, to $1,336.30 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was down by as much as 1% earlier in the day.

The yellow metal was considered overbought following a three-day surge that took prices to new ten-month highs. The Relative Strength Index (RSI) peaked in the mid-70s on Wednesday but has since fallen back to 66.00. An RSI above 70 is a good indicator that the asset is overbought and due for a short-term correction.

Read: Chinese Lunar New Year stokes demand for gold.

May silver futures declined 30 cents, or 1.8%, to $15.99 a troy ounce. The grey metal approached eight-month highs in the previous session.

The U.S. dollar failed to rally on Thursday but appears to have emerged from a recent soft patch. The dollar index (DXY), which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of six rivals, held steady at 96.46.

Bulls Maintain Upper Hand

Gold’s bearish-to-bullish trend reversal began in the fourth quarter as traders used the traditional safe haven to hedge against global volatility. Strong demand from China, the world’s largest bullion consumer, has also underpinned the rally. Gold prices in Shanghai recently hit their highest in 31 months.

The yuan is playing a role in keeping China’s wholesale gold market priced at a significant premium relative to its peers in London. At last check, Chinese gold prices held a $10.50 per ounce premium over London quotes, once again signaling firm demand.

In the United States, a dovish pivot by the Federal Reserve could help accelerate gold’s recovery as traders worry less about declining liquidity and a stronger dollar. On Wednesday, the central bank released the minutes of its January policy meeting, where officials noted a “variety of considerations that supported a patient approach” to monetary policy. Read more: U.S. Stocks Rise as Fed Confirms Dovish Pivot.

For futures traders, this means further rate hikes will be put on hold for the foreseeable future as the Fed monitors stock-market volatility and slowing global growth.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. Chart via Barchart.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 773 rated postsChief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi




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Commodities

Gold Price: Chinese Lunar New Year Stokes Buying Frenzy

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Gold notched fresh ten-month highs Wednesday and was on track for its third consecutive session in the green as physical demand from China provided another catalyst for the buying frenzy.

Bullion Approaches $1,350

Gold for April delivery reached a high of $1,349.80 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. That was the highest since last April. At the time of writing, the yellow metal was trading at $1,346.10 a troy ounce, where it gained $1.30, or 0.1%.

Bullion’s rally moderated at the start of February but has since come back stronger. Prices are up 3% since Feb. 11.

Further reading: Gold Rush Continues as Bullion Tops $1,340 for the First Time Since April

March silver futures rose 6 cents, or 0.5%, to $16.03 a troy ounce. The platinum spot price surged $8.84, or 1.1%, to $828.49 a pound.

Chinese Demand

Precious metals are seeing higher demand not just from traders, but consumers as well. The latest buying frenzy came on the heels of Chinese’s recent Lunar New Year celebrations, which culminated in the first week of February. The week-long celebration is known to trigger high demand for jewelry.

That was the key takeaway from the latest weekly report from Metals Focus. Analysts at the British research firm issued the following statement regarding China and the gold rally (as quoted by Kitco):

“Some manufacturers we talked to said they have received healthy stock replenishment orders, since business reopened on 11th February, while others expect retailers to return after the Lantern Festival (19th February). This lends more confidence to our forecast that the Chinese jewelry market will enjoy further modest y/y growth in 2019.”

Large orders ahead of the holiday allowed the firm to reiterate its forecast for a 3% rise in Chinese jewelry demand this year. That follows a similar increase in 2018.

China is at the center of an ongoing trade dispute with the United States that has threatened to not only undermine global economic growth, but the price of gold as well. China remains heavily dependent on exports to sustain its economy and any disruption in trade flows could hasten an economic cooldown that began more than five years ago.

Beijing has sent an envoy to Washington to continue negotiating a new trade agreement. Both sides have until March 1 to reach a new agreement before tariffs on Chinese imports are reapplied. However, President Trump has expressed willingness to let the deadline “slide” if both sides made enough progress in their talks.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. Chart via Barchart.com.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 773 rated postsChief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi




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Commodities

Gold Rush Continues as Bullion Tops $1,340 for the First Time Since April

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Gold’s relentless push higher continued on Tuesday, as the yellow metal topped $1,340.00 a troy ounce for the first time in over ten months.

Market Update

Gold for April delivery surged $18.40, or 1.4%, to $1,340.50 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange where it was eyeing its highest settlement since Apr. 19, 2018. Bullion has gained in back-to-back sessions and three of the past four days.

The yellow metal has rallied 4.6% in 2019 and 12% since the fourth quarter began.

Silver futures also produced solid results on Tuesday. The March futures contract rallied 18 cents, or 1.2%, to $15.93 a troy ounce. That’s the highest in almost three weeks.

Precious metals are being propped up by a declining U.S. dollar, which is currently mired in a four-day slump. The U.S. dollar index (DXY), which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of six peers, fell 0.2% to 96.70. Since peaking at two-month highs, the greenback has lost 0.4%.

Can’t Stop Gold: Yellow Metal Notches Ten-Month High Despite Improved Risk Sentiment

Markets Await Data Flow

A somber mood on Wall Street and in Europe may have also contributed to the rally on Tuesday as investors shifted their attention to macroeconomic data from key markets. The large-cap S&P 500 Index was trading flat by mid-morning. European markets were all lower. That being said, gold’s recent performance has been largely uncorrelated with stocks and other risk-on assets.

The Federal Reserve will release the minutes of its latest policy meeting on Wednesday. Central bankers voted to keep interest rates on hold last month and signaled dovish turn in their forward guidance. The prevailing view for now is that the Fed will not raise interest rates in 2019. Some analysts believe the central bank is more likely to cut rates before raising them again.

A steady stream of PMI data for European and U.S. markets are scheduled for the latter half of the week. On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Commerce will report on durable goods orders, a key proxy for factory demand.

Central-bank speeches from the Fed and European Central Bank will make headlines on Friday. In the same session, Germany will report on fourth-quarter GDP. The European Commission will also release its revised consumer inflation report for January.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. Chart via Barchart.com.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 773 rated postsChief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi




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