While this data is encouraging, a large Ukrainian cloud continues to loom threateningly over markets with further reports of shelling in the European country by Russia. French President Emmanuel Macron met with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the weekend and appears to have brokered an agreement for Mr Putin to have a summit with his US counterpart Joe Biden to discuss the seemingly ever-escalating tensions.
The potential crisis in Ukraine has been on the radar of markets for some time, so to some extent, the geopolitical risk has been priced in. However, the trajectory of a possible conflict looks to be heading in a worryingly worsening direction with the prospect of a military invasion seeming more likely now than at any time in recent weeks.
Clearly, any outbreak of armed conflict would rock markets and quickly turn around the fragile optimism that economic data continues to provide. Today could well bring increased volatility in the markets due to lower volumes with a holiday in the US to mark Presidents’ Day.
Gold Price Analysis
The continued escalation in tensions over Ukraine has proved supportive for gold as investors seek out the haven asset and reduce their exposure to equities in the event of a stock market plunge if military conflict were to break out.
The price is now challenging the $1,900 an ounce mark, or $61 a gram, levels not seen since June 2021.
So far, the precious metal has met resistance as it tries to successfully clear these psychologically important levels so the next few days will be key in determining whether fears over Ukraine can outweigh the encouraging data on the economic front as well as the likelihood of a series of interest rate hikes this year by central banks with the latter two factors applying the brakes to further gold gains.
Silver Price Analysis
Silver has slipped back a touch from the highs reached at the end of last week but continues to trade near $24 an ounce.
On a day where more market volatility is likely with the US on holiday, it will be interesting to note if there are any sharp moves on silver with the precious metal much more prone to volatility than its golden peer.
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