Precious metals had a fantastic week this 5-day trading session, mostly thanks to a slew of outside factors that helped spur safe-haven demand. All in all this was quite the busy week, but no event was highlighted more than the monthly meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee of the United States. With so many people interested in what the turbulent global economy means for the future of interest rates, the post-meeting statement delivered by Janet Yellen was watched over by investors of all types.
In addition to this, there were a few pieces of key economic data that did well to shake up the marketplace a bit. Gold and silver are going to be heading into the weekend ahold of some solid momentum, but it will be interesting to see if they are able to retain it come the opening of markets on Monday.
OPEC Meeting Looked at Skeptically
Exactly 7 days ago, the marketplace caught wind of a rumor that said that OPEC was going to soon be holding a meeting where member-nations would vote on the merits of a production freeze. This move would be aimed at lessening the global supply glut that is currently responsible for cheap prices at the pump and generally cheap energy prices. Though there was optimism surrounding the idea of this meeting a week ago, people have begun to rethink that a bit.
For one, there is a strong feeling that not every OPEC nation is going to be exactly keen on halting the production of one of their biggest revenue streams. In addition to that, there is an even stronger belief that, if OPEC nations stop producing for any amount of time, Iran will step in and fill that void. After all, Iran has not been able to produce oil on the scale they are now for quite some time. This caused the price of crude oil to dip this week, and it is now hovering around $40/barrel.
FOMC Makes No Changes to Monetary Policy
Perhaps the biggest event of the week came over the course of Tuesday and Wednesday when the Federal Open Market Committee of the United States held their monthly policy meeting. No one was expecting the Fed to make any changes to monetary policy, but instead were paying attention to what Janet Yellen had to say in her post-meeting conference.
All in all, it is clear that the Fed thinks the US economy is going to continue growing at a moderate pace going forward. This is even despite the fact global economic conditions are deteriorating more and more with each passing week. If job growth continues as it has been recently, the US economy may finally be able to withstand another interest rate hike.
Jobless Claims Climb, But Overall Picture Remains Positive
Last week saw first-time claims for unemployment benefits rise slightly, but this news was not perceived as being overly negative seeing as the rise was not as steep as was anticipated. As it stands, the seasonally-adjusted average of jobless claims remains at 265,000.
The real employment news today is the fact that this week marks the 54 consecutive week where the seasonally-adjusted average of weekly jobless claims fell below the 300,000 mark. This is the longest such streak since the 1970s and give investors a good bit of confidence that perhaps the employment sector of the United States is doing as well as some of the recent data is suggesting.
As we head into the weekend and into the latter half of March, it will be interesting to see if the safe-haven demand and other factors driving spot values forward will persist. The near-term looks good for precious metals, though anything can happen.