(Kitco News) – Gold and silver prices moderately up in early U.S. futures trading Thursday, with spot gold hitting a seven-year high in some world markets. Featured this week in the precious metals is a marked uptick in safe-haven demand as the negative economic consequences from the coronavirus outbreak appear to be increasing. April gold futures hit a new contract high overnight and were last up $7.70 an ounce at $1,619.50. March Comex silver prices were last up $0.014 at $18.325 an ounce.
Asian and European shares were mixed overnight. U.S. stock indexes are pointed toward weaker openings when the New York day session begins, on some profit taking after the Nasdaq and S&P 500 indexes hit record highs Wednesday.
The coronavirus outbreak remains on or close to the front burner of the global marketplace, and today the concerns seem a bit greater. China’s central bank cut its one-year loan prime rate to 4.05% from 4.15% and the five-year loan rate to 4.75% from 4.80%. The move was not surprising and is an effort to keep the world’s second-largest economy afloat as the negative impact of the covid-19 outbreak is growing. China’s manufacturers are running out of needed materials and some have shut their doors. This situation is impacting global businesses and underscores the significance of the world supply chain that has many links in China.
There is now talk that with supply shortages of some commodities in China, those commodity prices could actually rise on the world market due to hoarding and China’s manufacturers scrambling to procure those commodities. Such talk is ironic given the coronavirus has worked to crimp global economic growth, including pushing several raw commodity prices lower on expectations for reduced demand for them.
The Federal Reserve said in its FOMC meeting minutes released Wednesday afternoon that it is closely monitoring the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
While it’s been reported the rate of spread of the coronavirus (now called covid-19) has slowed significantly recently, other health experts say there is little sign of the virus easing due to its high contagion level. Reports said the Hubei province in China had around 350 new confirmed cases Wednesday, down from nearly 1,700 on Tuesday. Two covid-19 infected passengers of the cruise ship quarantined in Japan have died, with two Japanese government officials reported to have been infected.
The key outside markets today see crude oil prices near steady and trading around $53.25 a barrel. Meantime, the U.S. dollar index is up and hit another multi-month high in early U.S. trading. The greenback bulls have benefited greatly from safe-haven demand amid the heightened global uncertainty.
U.S. economic data due for release Thursday includes the weekly jobless claims report, the Philadelphia Fed business survey, leading economic indicators, and the weekly DOE liquid energy stocks report.
Technically, the gold bulls have the solid overall near-term technical advantage and have gained power this week by restarting a three-month-old price uptrend on the daily chart. Bulls’ next upside price objective is to produce a close in April futures above solid resistance at $1,650.00. Bears’ next near-term downside price objective is pushing futures prices below solid technical support at this week’s low of $1,581.80. First resistance is seen at the overnight high of $1,621.60 and then at $1,625.00. First support is seen at the overnight low of $1,606.60 and then at $1,600.00. Wyckoff’s Market Rating: 8.5
March silver futures bulls have the overall near-term technical advantage with this week’s strong gains. Silver bulls’ next upside price breakout objective is closing prices above solid technical resistance at the January high of $18.895 an ounce. The next downside price breakout objective for the bears is closing prices below solid support at this week’s low of $17.67. First resistance is seen at this week’s high of $18.45 and then at $18.50. Next support is seen at Wednesday’s low of $18.135 and then at $18.00. Wyckoff’s Market Rating: 6.0.
Tentative deal between union workers and beef producer Cargill struck | CTV News – CTV News Calgary
With less than a week to go before workers were set to go on strike at Cargill’s High River, Alta. beef processing plant, the company says a tentative deal has been reached.
The company announced the development on Wednesday and says it is “encouraged by the outcome” of recent talks.
“After a long day of collaborative discussion, we reached an agreement on an offer that the bargaining committee will recommend to its members. The offer is comprehensive and fair and includes retroactive pay, signing bonuses, a 21 per cent wage increase over the life of the contract and improved health benefits,” Cargill wrote in a statement to CTV News via email.
The company adds it also “remains optimistic” a deal can be finalized before the strike deadline.
“(We) encourage employees to vote on this offer which recognizes the important role they play in Cargill’s work to nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way. While we navigate this negotiation, we continue to focus on fulfilling food manufacturer, retail and food service customer orders while keeping markets moving for farmers and ranchers,” it wrote.
The United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union (UFCW) Local 401 was expected to go on strike on Dec. 6.
It rejected the most recent attempt at a deal on Nov. 25 by a 98 per cent margin.
According to a statement from UFCW Local 401, the negotiating team engaged in “a marathon day” of talks with the company on Tuesday.
“Late in the evening, our bargaining committee concluded that they were in receipt of a fair offer and that they were prepared to present that offer to their coworkers with a recommendation of acceptance,” it wrote in a statement.
The union says the tentative deal will “significantly improve” the lives of Cargill workers and will be the ‘best food processing contract in Canada.”
Highlights from the deal include:
- $4,200 in retroactive pay for many employees;
- $1,000 signing bonus;
- $1,000 COVID-19 bonus;
- More than $6,000 total bonuses for workers three weeks before Christmas;
- $5 wage increase for many employees;
- Improved health benefits; and
- Provisions to facilitate a new culture of health, safety, dignity and respect in the workplace
While UFCW Local 401 president Thomas Hesse calls the deal “fair,” he will support workers on the picket line if they decide to reject the proposal.
“If they do accept it, I’ll work with them every day to make Cargill a better workplace,” Hesse said in a statement. “I will do as our members ask me to do.
“I respect all of the emotions that they feel and the suffering that they have experienced.”
Employees are expected the vote on the new deal between Dec. 2 and 4.
Afterpay delays vote on $29 billion buyout as Square awaits Spain’s nod
Afterpay Ltd will delay a shareholder meet to approve Square Inc’s $29-billion buyout of the Australian buy now, pay later leader, as the Jack Dorsey-led payment company awaits regulatory nod in Spain.
The investor meet was set for Dec. 6, but Afterpay said it would likely take place next year as Square, which has rebranded itself to Block Inc, is likely to get an approval from the Bank of Spain only in mid-January.
The delay is unlikely to impact the completion of Australia‘s biggest deal, which is set for the first quarter of 2022, Afterpay said.
“We continue to believe the risks of the transaction closing are minimal,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Chami Ratnapala said in a brief client note.
Meanwhile, Twitter Inc co-founder Dorsey is expected to focus on Square after stepping down as chief executive of the social media platform as it looks to expand beyond its payment business and into new technologies like blockchain.
Afterpay shares fell more than 6%, far underperforming the broader Australian market, tracking Square’s 6.6% drop overnight in U.S. market on worries over the Omicron variant.
(Reporting by Nikhil Kurian, Sameer Manekar and Indranil Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva, Rashmi Aich and Arun Koyyur)
Canada Goose under fresh fire in China over no-return policies
China’s top consumer protection organisation has warned Canada Goose Holdings Inc against “bullying” customers in China with its return policies, just three months after the winterwear brand was fined for false advertising.
The premium down jacket manufacturer has been a hot topic on Chinese social media in recent days over its handling of a case involving a customer who wanted a refund of her purchases amounting to 11,400 yuan ($1,790.17) after finding quality issues.
She said she was told by Canada Goose that all products sold at its retail stores in mainland China were strictly non-refundable, according to her account which went viral online.
State-backed media such as the Global Times newspaper later cited Canada Goose as denying that it had a no-refund policy and that all products sold at its retail stores in mainland China were refundable in line with Chinese laws. The company did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
That has not failed to quell criticism of the brand.
“No brand has any privileges in front of consumers,” the government-backed China Consumer Association (CCA) said in an opinion piece posted on its website on Thursday morning.
“If you don’t do what you say, regard yourself as a big brand, behave arrogantly and in a superior way, adopt discriminatory policies, be condescending and bully customers, you will for sure lose the trust of consumers and be abandoned by the market,” the CCA said.
Representatives of the brand were summoned for talks on Wednesday by the Shanghai Consumer Council to explain its refund policy in China.
The dressing down of Canada Goose comes as tension between China and Western countries has fuelled patriotism and driven some shoppers to turn to home-grown labels.
Canada Goose was also fined 450,000 yuan in September in China for “misleading” consumers in its ads.
($1 = 6.3681 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Sophie Yu, Brenda Goh; Editing by Kim Coghill)
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