9 March 2015

Gold prices rebound in early Asia, but copper down on China import data

 Gold rebounded in Asia on Monday froma downbeat close last week, butcopper fell as China released trade data at the weekend that showed a sharp drop in imports even as exports surged

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for April delivery rose 0.43% to $1,169.30 a troy ounce.

Elsewhere on the Comex, silver futures for May delivery gained 0.13% to $15.828a troy ounce.

Meanwhile, copper for May delivery fell 0.32% to $2.599 a pound.

For the week, Comex copper declined 9.0 cents, or 3.08% amid ongoing concerns over the health of China's economy.

The Asian nation is the world’s largest copper consumer, accounting for almost 40% of world consumption last year.

On Sunday, China reported a trade surplus of $60.6 billion in the January-February period, compared to expectations for a surplus of $10.8 billion and up from a surplus of $60.0 in January.

Exports surged 48.3% from a year earlier last month, above expectations for a 14.2% increase, while imports tumbled 20.5%, much worse than forecasts for a decline of 10.0%.

Last week, gold plunged to the lowest level in more than three months on Friday, as robust U.S. nonfarm payrolls data boosted expectations that the Federal Reserve will start raising rates sooner rather than later.

It was the biggest one-day loss since December 2013 and helped wipe out the precious metal's gains so far this year.

The Labor Department reported that the U.S. economy added 295,000 jobs in February, far more than the 240,000 forecast by economists, while the unemployment rate ticked down to 5.5% from 5.7% in January, the lowest since May 2008.

The robust jobs report fuelled expectations that the Federal Reserve will start raising interest rates as early as June.

Expectations of higher borrowing rates going forward is considered bearish for gold, as the precious metal struggles to compete with yield-bearing assets when rates are on the rise.

A stronger U.S. dollar usually weighs on gold, as it dampens the metal's appeal as an alternative asset and makes dollar-priced commodities more expensive for holders of other currencies.

Meanwhile, the euro sank to an 11-year low against the dollar after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi confirmed that it will begin purchasing euro zone government bonds on Monday under its new quantitative easing program.

The combined monthly asset purchases will amount to €60 billion per month and are expected to run until September 2016.

In the week ahead, markets will be watching talks on Greece by euro zone finance ministers in Brussels on Monday, while Thursday’s U.S. retail sales report will also be closely watched for further indications on the strength of the recovery.