Precious metals did not perform poorly this week but did not overly impress either as a batch of economic data did well to throw away much of precious metals’ momentum. Housing data was a big talking point this week, but it came back mostly mixed and investors are now more confused about the current state of the US housing market than anything else.
One important piece of data was dealt Thursday in the form of the most recent weekly jobless claims report. After falling for the past two weeks, this week’s data showed that first-time claims for unemployment benefits rose by more than 10,000. This brings the seasonally-adjusted average number of claims back over the 270,000 mark. Now, as we bring February to a close, all eyes will be fixated on what upcoming employment reports will say about this month. Preliminary expectations are that February was not too great for job creation.
New home sales for January was a data point that was dealt during the day on Wednesday, and what is showed is a housing market that is not thriving, but doing quite the opposite. Officially, sales of new homes in January were more than 9% weaker than they were in February. The annualized number of homes sold has now fallen below 500,000, a mark that was not expected by investors nor market experts. With the global economy heading the direction it currently is, the new home sales data is not too shocking at all. Prospective home buyers simply do not feel comfortable enough to make such a large-scale purchase in times of economic turmoil throughout most of the world.
While January’s new home sales figures were disappointing, existing home sales improved. Officially, the National Association of Realtors saw existing home sales improve by just shy of .5%. This may not seem like a nice trek forward, but considering expectations were for a decrease in the number of existing home sales, investors will take it.
Finally, the last bit of economic data that was dealt this week came Thursday in the form of the most recent durable goods orders from the United States in January. Officially, orders for durable good in January rose by one tenth of a percentage point shy of 5%. December’s figures were revised to show a dip of 4.6%, so January orders did well to dig the durable goods data out of a tough position. Now, as we head into the first week of March, it will be interesting to see what economic reports begin to say about what happened during February. As it stands, no one is expecting February to have been the most economically robust month we have seen in a while.
A meeting of some of the most influential countries in the world kicked off today in Shanghai, China. The meeting’s main talking point will be what changes the Chinese government can make to their economy in order to spur some sort of economic growth, and sustain that growth.
The meeting is set to last through the weekend, and it will be interesting to see what, if any, outcomes are presented.
In other news, there are rumors circulating recently that claim some of the world’s largest oil-producing nations will be meeting in order to talk, once again, about what can be done to combat the falling price of oil. At this point, nothing short of an all-out production cut seems like a viable option. With that said, however, convincing countries who primarily rely on oil for income to stop producing that oil is something that will take some convincing. The meeting is rumored to be scheduled for sometime in March, however nothing has been independently confirmed as of yet.