Gold rises to highest level in a month as China data adds to growing jitters
Gold prices climbed and U.S. stocks slid on Monday, as signs that the coronavirus lockdowns clouded China’s growth prospects, adding to worries about a weakening global economy.
Gold, which typically rises in times of uncertainty, rose about 0.8% to $1,989 a troy ounce, its highest level in more than a month.
U.S. stocks fell on Monday, with the blue-chip S&P 500 down 0.3% in afternoon trade, while the Nasdaq Composite lost 0.6% in thin trade after reopening for the long weekend. Trading volume in the S&P 500 is about 20% below the recent average, according to Bloomberg data.
Asia-Pacific’s broad MSCI stock market index fell 1.1 percent, its second straight session of losses. Large European markets were closed for the Easter Monday holiday.
In the government bond market, the 10-year yield rose 0.06 percentage point to 2.87%. Yield is inversely proportional to price.
A cautious start to the trading week comes with a series of releases in China Economic data. In the first three months of 2022, GDP grew by 4.8% from the same period in 2021, beating market expectations.
But economic activity data for March revealed Beijing’s zero-virus policy, including Shanghai closed city, has eroded the growth prospects of the world’s second-largest economy. Retail sales fell 3.5% in March from the same month in 2021, the first year-over-year decline since July 2020; annual growth in industrial production slowed; and indicators tracking China’s troubled property market deteriorated further.
“While the March data showed a clear slowdown in growth momentum, the drag on economic activity in April is likely to be larger than in March as the virus-free policy escalates and disruptions to economic activity widen,” analysts at JPMorgan said.
JPMorgan cuts forecasts China’s GDP growth will increase from 4.9% to 4.6% in 2022. Barclays also cut its 2022 growth forecast to 4.3% from 4.5%.
The latest round of worries about China has added to investor jitters over plans by global central banks to tighten monetary policy to curb inflation. In fact, U.S. natural gas prices rose 10% to $8.03 per million British thermal units on Monday, the highest level since 2008.
Investors will be closely watching speeches from Fed officials this week, including from Chairman Jay Powell, that could provide further guidance on how aggressively policymakers can raise interest rates this year.
Goldman Sachs chief economist Jan Hatzius said over the weekend that the central bank faces a “hard road to a soft landing” as it trying to push up inflation By drastically raising borrowing costs and shrinking the size of its $9 trillion balance sheet, it fell from 8.5% to its 2% target.
Hatzius sees a 15 percent chance of a U.S. recession next year and a 35 percent chance of a recession in the next 24 months.
Investors also digested the latest batch of corporate results.Bank of America reported better-than-expected Monday income Driven by a rebound in lending and rising interest rates.
The U.S. first-quarter earnings season is off to a good start, with S&P 500 companies having beaten earnings estimates by 7.5% so far, according to FactSet.
However, with less than one in 10 companies in the blue chip index having updated the market so far, investors will have a better idea of ??the overall outlook before the end of the week, when another 67 including Netflix, IBM and the U.S. Constituent Express will report the results.