Sovereign debt fears out of the Euro Zone are filling investors’ minds with fear and trepidation as many believe a contagion effect is inevitable. News concerning Italy has sent stock market bulls scurrying for cover today and has emboldened the bears who have been mericlessly squeezed out over the last two weeks once the S&P was miraculously recussitated from the 1250 level on the price charts. The thinking is that a rash of credit downgrades might commence hitting large bank balance sheets in particular which would have a similar effect on Europe as the collapse of Lehman did on the US back three years ago to this very month.
Risk trades went out the window today as most commodities were jettisoned along with equities while the bonds and the Dollar were both sharply higher as the latter two were beneficiaries of a safe haven flow. With the Euro looking shaky, traders were willing to buy the greenback in spite of the lack of any serious effort on the part of the current US administration to come to terms with the runaway costs of entitlement programs, which is where the serious money is going to have to be cut in order to get federal spending under control.
An interesting thing happened however to the gold market – it completely ignored the reversal of the risk trades and actually functioned exactly like a safe haven market is supposed to function in such an environment. It shot up through the critical technical resistance level at $1550 and while it did fall below that level briefly as silver get slammed, it clawed its way right back above that level and ended today’s trading in New York firmly above $1550. That bodes very well for the future prospects of the metal as the bears have been able to successfully block its upward progress there for three separate attempts over the last 6 weeks. Given the strength in the Dollar, this is excellent price action as it translates into higher prices for gold measured across a wide variety of various major currency terms.
What we are now watching to see is whether or not it can attract buyers on any dip back down below that level or whether it sinks below $1550 and fails to regain its footing and incurs speculative long lonquidation instead of dip buying. If it can hold $1550 and plow through the last technical level shown on the chart below ($1560), it will be at its all time high very quickly. As it stands now, it has already made a new all time record high when priced in terms of the Euro and in the British Pound. That strength will aid the metal and SHOULD attract dip buyers as it is extremely difficult to be bearish on any commodity when it is making new all time highs when priced in terms of other currencies. What adds another element of interest to this current drama is the fact that gold is moving higher during the summer doldrums. Quite frankly, a fair contingent of traders are off of vacation with their families right now. Unless they are checking in regularly, they might well be surprised when they return.
The fly in the ointment is the weakness in the mining shares which succumbed to the selling that hit the broad equity markets. I would prefer to see those things moving higher in conjunction with the metal but no dice. The price action today confirms the 210 level in the XAU as the next formidable resistance level through which the index will have to climb in order to presage better prices for the sector lay just ahead. There is some technical price support down near the 200 level.
Silver today was viewed as a risk trade as it sank sharply lower alongside of copper and the energies and softs. That market is so schizophrenic in nature that one never knows from day to day how it is going to be regarded by traders. Is it a safe haven or a risk asset? The answer depends on whatever the hedge funds say it is on any given day. See the chart below for the technical posture.
The US Dollar was sharply higher today on a safe haven bid but was once again unable to successfully clear overhead resistance centered near the 76.50 level on the USDX chart. This level is taking on increasing signifance therefore as sellers have been able to hold it from breaking through even when volume has been good. IF, and this is a big “IF”, the Dollar can punch through this level and hold its gains, it will have managed a breakout to the upside and should be able to garner enough buying momentum from trapped shorts to initially take it up towards 77.50 – 78.00. Should it do so, we will want to see how gold responds to any such event. If gold does what it did today and ignores Dollar strength, the Gold bears are in trouble.
The S&P 500 dropped down and bounced lightly off of its 50 day moving average. It looks heavy here as it is still reeling from the absymal jobs number from last Friday but today had to contend with traders running out of equities and into bonds. It will need to climb through 1350 to set up a run for 1375. On the downside there is additional support near and just below the 1300 level.
My last comment for today is a sure fire trade for the summer. Get ready – BUY FROZEN YOGURT at the market. Can’t miss on that one!