(Kitco News) The gold market continues to benefit from its safe-haven appeal as Russia-Ukraine tensions confuse and add fear to the marketplace.
There was a lot of confusion over sarcastic comments made by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy about February 16 being identified as the day Russia plans to attack Ukraine.
In a video message on Monday, Zelenskiy declared this upcoming Wednesday a “day of unity,” instead of what many in Western media cite as a possible start of a Russian invasion.
“They tell us Feb. 16 will be the day of the attack. We will make it a day of unity,” Zelenskiy said. “They are trying to frighten us by yet again naming a date for the start of military action,” Zelenskiy said. “On that day, we will hang our national flags, wear yellow and blue banners, and show the whole world our unity.”
The reference of February 16 added fear to the markets on Monday afternoon. To clarify the comment, Zelenskiy spokesman Sergii Nykyforov said that the comment was taken at face value.
“The president referred to a date that was spread by the media,” Nykyforov told NBC News.
In the Monday’s video message Ukraine’s leader also called on politicians and business leaders who had fled the country to return within 24 hours in a show of unity.
“It is your direct duty in such a situation to be with us, with the Ukrainian people. I suggest that you return to your homeland within 24 hours and stand shoulder to shoulder with the Ukrainian army, our diplomacy, and our people,” Zelenskiy said.
On Monday, the U.S. announced that it is closing its embassy in the country’s capital Kyiv and “temporarily relocating” its operations to Lviv, a city in western Ukraine near the Polish border.
In response, the U.S. stock indexes fell while gold prices tested the $1,870 an ounce level. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.62% during afternoon trading, the S&P 500 fell 0.6%, and the Nasdaq Composite edged down 0.1%.
April Comex gold futures were trading at $1,872.30, up $30.20 on the day, at the time of writing.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict is what will drive gold prices this week, with the market looking to make more gains in case of further escalation, according to analysts.
“The upswing is attributable to a warning from U.S. intelligence services that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent. Consequently, gold was in considerable demand as a safe haven. This need for safety of investors was also evident in the ETFs: Bloomberg reports that Friday saw inflows of nearly 6 tons,” said Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann. “If the situation there does indeed escalate, the gold price is initially likely to climb further.”
The geopolitical tensions could take the gold market all the way to $1,900, said OANDA senior market analyst Edward Moya. “The $1880 level should prove to be key resistance for gold … bullish momentum could take prices to the $1900 level,” Moya said.
Fears of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine were renewed on Friday when the U.S. said that Russia could launch military action in Ukraine “any day.”
Russia has continuously denied reports that it is planning to attack Ukraine. Over the weekend, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused the West of “hysteria.”
“This hysteria is being intentionally whipped up,” Peskov said on Sunday. “We are being accused of some sort of unusual military activity on our territory by those who brought in their troops from across the ocean. This neither exactly logical nor exactly polite.”
Another layer of uncertainty was introduced by St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard on Monday, who said in a hawkish comment that he would support a faster rate hike timeline that would see a full percentage point increase by July 1.
“It was really October, November, December, January that called into question any idea that this inflation was naturally going to moderate in any reasonable time frame without the Fed taking action,” said Bullard.
The big item on the agenda this week is the January FOMC meeting minutes. Markets will be looking for clues in terms of how aggressive the U.S. central bank could allow itself to be.
” The minutes … will help to clarify whether officials would consider a 50bp hike,” said Capital Economics chief North America economist Paul Ashworth.
US stocks rally as Fed minutes meet expectations – Al Jazeera English
Investors fear that overly aggressive interest rate hikes by the Fed could tip the economy into recession.
Wall Street closed higher Wednesday, boosted after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest monetary policy meeting showed policymakers unanimously felt the United States economy was very strong as they grappled with reining in inflation without triggering a recession.
The minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee’s May meeting, which culminated in a 50-basis-point rise in the Fed funds target rate – the biggest jump in 22 years – showed most of the committee’s members judged that further such rate hikes would “likely be appropriate” at its upcoming June and July meetings.
“The uniformity of opinion is a good thing,” said Ross Mayfield, investment strategy analyst at Baird in Louisville, Kentucky. “There’s a lack of uncertainty of what needs to be done in the near term.”
“By the time [the Fed] gets to September, they will have plenty of economic data to make their move from there, so they continue to maintain optionality,” Mayfield added.
All three major US stock indexes gyrated earlier in the day amid increasing jitters stemming from business and consumer surveys, economic data and corporate earnings reports suggesting a cooling American economy – even as the Fed prepares to toss a bucket of cold water on it to tackle decades-high inflation.
Fears that overly aggressive interest rate hikes by the Fed could tip the economy into recession despite evidence that inflation peaked in March has driven those concerns.
“There’s some credence to the idea that inflation is doing [the Fed’s] job for them,” Mayfield said. “There’s already a cooling occurring, and financial conditions have tightened over the last month because of dollar strength and equity market weakness.”
On Thursday, the Department of Commerce is due to release its second take on first-quarter GDP, which analysts are expected to show a slightly shallower contraction than the 1.4 percent quarterly annualised drop originally reported.
The Personal Consumption Expenditures report will follow on Friday, which will provide further clues regarding consumer spending and whether inflation peaked in March, as other indicators have suggested.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 191.66 points, or 0.6 percent, to 32,120.28, the S&P 500 gained 37.25 points, or 0.95 percent, to 3,978.73 and the Nasdaq Composite added 170.29 points, or 1.51 percent, to 11,434.74.
Nine of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500 rose, with consumer discretionary stocks leading the pack with a gain of 2.8 percent.
Amazon.com Inc and Tesla Inc provided the strongest lift to the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, rising 2.6 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively.
Department store operator Nordstrom Inc surged 14.0 percent on the heels of its upbeat annual profit and revenue forecasts.
Fast-food chain Wendy’s Co jumped 9.8 percent after a regulatory filing revealed that shareholder Nelson Peltz was considering a potential takeover bid for the company.
Shares of Nvidia Corp fell more than 8 percent in after-hours trading after the company’s second-quarter revenue forecast missed expectations.
Gas Up Nearly 4 Cents; Price Freeze Lifts in Labrador – VOCM
Despite predictions to the contrary, the regulated price of gas is up in most parts of the province.
Gasoline is up by 3.9 cents a litre, except along the coast of Labrador. Diesel on the island is up by 1.3 cents while diesel in Labrador has dropped by 11.6 cents a litre. Furnace oil costs over a cent a litre more on the island while stove oil on the island up by the same amount. Stove oil in Labrador is down by 23.70 cents a litre.
Propane meanwhile is down by just under 2 cents.
The suspension of maximum price adjustments on the coast of Labrador lifts as of today as fuel deliveries resume for the season—that means significant increases, in some cases by about a dollar a litre, for some fuels.
Cheese not on the table in Canada-U.K. trade talks as Britain seeks market access
OTTAWA — The British foreign secretary has often been mocked for her preoccupation with cheese. It started eight years ago when Liz Truss expressed outrage in a speech to her party’s annual conference.
“We import two thirds of our cheese,” she raged. “That is a disgrace.”
Now Truss is facing another battle over cheese, this time with Canada.
Britain wants greater access to Canadian markets for more than 700 varieties of cheese including Stilton, Cheshire, and Wensleydale, a crumbly variety originating from Yorkshire.
But Ottawa has made it clear it does not want to see more British cheddar, let alone artisan varieties such as stinking bishop, renegade monk and Hereford hop, on Canadian fridge shelves.
During the first round of negotiations of the U.K.-Canada trade deal, Canada told Britain that a larger quota for British cheese is not on the negotiating table.
When it was a European Union member, Britain was part of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Canada, giving it some access to Canada’s cheese market.
After the U.K. left the EU, a “continuity agreement” with Canada was swiftly put in place to maintain the CETA arrangement until a bilateral trade deal could be struck.
Ralph Goodale, Canada’s high commissioner to the U.K., said if Britain wants more access to Canadian markets for its cheese as part of a bilateral free-trade agreement, it will have to knock on Brussels’ door and get its part of the dairy quota back.
“The point is we have already provided that volume in the EU deal and the British left it there without taking it with them,” he said in an interview. “That’s an issue they need to resolve with the Europeans because the Europeans have their quota.”
Goodale said the U.K.’s request for extra access for British cheese — on top of the access given to the EU — is “what the Canadian negotiators consider to be pretty much a dead end.”
“You are talking about a double concession — one we have already made to the EU and the request is being made by the U.K. for yet another one on top of that,” he said.
The high commissioner said Canada values its trading relationship with the U.K., adding that he is confident that a mutually-beneficial trade deal will be reached.
But if Canada allows the British to export more of their cheese it would involve “a major commitment of compensation to dairy producers” in Canada to make up for lost incomes.
In 2018, after the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement gave the U.S. fresh access to the Canadian dairy market, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would compensate Canadian dairy farmers.
Canada’s dairy industry was worth over $7 billion in 2020, according to the Canadian Dairy Commission’s annual report.
There are over 10,000 dairy farms in Canada — most of them in Quebec and Ontario — with an average of 92 cows per farm, it said.
Until at least the end of next year, Britain will be able to keep exporting its cheese to Canada under the trade continuity agreement, the U.K.’s trade department said.
This allows U.K. cheese exporters to access the Canadian market tariff-free under the EU portion of Canada’s World Trade Organization cheese tariff rate quota.
As part of the 1995 WTO agreement on agriculture, Canada established tariff rate quotas for cheese and other dairy products. The quotas set out quantities of dairy that could enter Canada with little or no duty.
For Britain, a fully fledged free trade deal with Canada is crucial after Brexit left it looking for fresh tariff-free markets.
“We want to negotiate an ambitious and comprehensive new agreement with Canada that will strengthen our close and historic bilateral trade relationship,” said a U.K. government trade spokesman in a statement, adding the relationship was worth about $34.5 billion in 2021.
In March, U.K. Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan flew to Canada to announce with Canada’s Trade Minister Mary Ng that bilateral negotiations had officially begun.
In a speech in the House of Lords in London earlier this month, Goodale reported on progress in the talks, saying that “both sides are optimistic that, as good as CETA and the continuity agreement were, we can do better still when Canada and the U.K. negotiate a deal face-to-face, directly with each other.”
Like Goodale, Ng said Canada is confident a free-trade deal with Britain will be reached, enhancing co-operation in a number of areas, including on renewables, sustainability and the digital economy.
“Canada values the relationship with the United Kingdom. They are … an important trading partner and a trade agreement with the U.K. will be very good for Canadian businesses,” she said in a phone interview from Thailand last weekend.
But she was also firm about the need to protect Canada’s dairy producers, and that means keeping more British cheese out.
“I have been very clear, our government has been very clear, that we will not provide access to our supply-managed sector,” she said. “We have been clear about that from the get-go.”
The Canadian dairy sector now produces 1,450 varieties of cheese, including ewe, goat and buffalo varieties, as well as the cheese curds used in the Québécois dish poutine.
At least half of Canada’s cheese is made in Quebec, which is home to a number of artisan varieties including bleu l’ermite, or blue hermit, and Oka, a popular semi-soft rind cheese.
Pierre Lampron, president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, has made it clear he will fiercely protect Canadian cheese from British interlopers.
Lampron said he had “validated that the issue of access to the Canadian dairy market was not on the agenda of these trade talks.”
Canada’s protectionist stance toward its dairy industry may have pleased farmers. But it has caused some tension with close allies.
Earlier this month, New Zealand launched a formal trade dispute against Canada, accusing the federal government of breaking promises to give access for dairy imports under the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
The Biden administration also recently said it was asking for a second dispute settlement panel under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to review a trade dispute with Canada over dairy import quotas.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022.
Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press
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