Precious metals have now lost for the last 3 weeks, making November a month that most investors would probably like to quickly forget. This week was hyphenated thanks to the Thanksgiving Day holiday being celebrate in the US on Thursday, but there was still plenty to talk about as far as investors are concerned. Now that we are heading into the month of December, you can bet that the interest rate hike talk will pick up once more. At this juncture, most everyone is anticipating that rates will be raised, however no one is certain as to how much they will be raised by or if further rate hikes will be taking place as 2017 plays out. Hopefully those questions will be answered, to some extent, in the coming weeks.
Mixed Housing Data Dealt
This week did not play host to the biggest amount of economic data, however there was some housing data dealt that is worth talking about. First up was an existing home sales report that did well to defy expectations and come back much stronger than anticipated. Officially, October’s existing home sales increased by 2% from September. This may seem like a fairly run of the mill report, but October’s data marked the best single-month performance we have seen in a decade.
Only a day later, however, we were on the receiving end of a new home sales report that, quite frankly, missed the mark. The US Department of Commerce announced that sales of new homes in October fell by roughly 3%. This was a huge miss from what was expected, but ultimately did not give all that much support to precious metals. The reason for this is due to the fact that October’s poor report was the first downtrodden housing report we have received in months. All told, the housing market in the US is like the employment market—strong.
Jobless Claims Rise by 15,000
After last week brought with it an unemployment claims report that showed the number of people applying for first-time unemployment benefits fell to a more than 10-year low, this week saw unemployment claims rise by 15,000 to a little more than 250,000 as far as the seasonally-adjusted average number of claims is concerned. Despite the rise in number of claims, no one really batted an eye at this report seeing as the employment market is currently very strong.
In fact, this week’s data marks the 90th consecutive week where the number of seasonally-adjusted claims has been below the 300,000 mark. We anticipate that such will remain the case for at least a few more weeks. By the time the holiday season passes, however, it will be interesting to see if the laying off of seasonal workers will result in a higher number of unemployment claims.
In other news, there was an earthquake off the coast of Japan that triggered tsunami warnings in the town of Fukushima, which was hit by a devastating earthquake-caused tsunami in 2011. This time around saw no tsunami, but it did prompt some safe-haven demand immediately in the wake of the earthquake.
As we head into next week, the biggest focus for investors will be the OPEC meeting that is set to take place sometime in the middle of the week. This meeting, like those of the past, is being held in hopes that it will result in a tangible reduction in the amount of crude oil produced on a daily basis by OPEC nations. This same type of meeting has been held in the past and no productions cuts were achieved, so most are expecting this meeting to bring about much of the same. In addition, we will also be gearing up for the FOMC meeting and the potential interest rate hike announcement that is expected to come as a result.