The trading week has gotten off to a strong start for equity investors. On Monday, the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average gained nearly 700 points for a gain of over 3% for the day. The question many investors may now be asking is whether recent gains might last.
As the world continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, the total amount of infections continues to rise. It is estimated by many analysts, in fact, that infections may not peek for several weeks still. U.S. President Trump even recently reversed course, ordering the shutdown to continue to April 30th. Trump had recently voiced his desire for the country to reopen by Easter.
Many companies announced employee furloughs today in a move that was not unexpected. How many of these companies might survive the pandemic remains a larger question, as many of them may not be able to last much longer.
On Friday, the U.S. Government passed legislation aimed at combatting the coronavirus crisis. The government passed a $2 trillion bill that would put money into the hands of most Americans. This is designed to keep people spending, as the transfer of money may keep the economy above water for a bit longer. Over $150 billion of the bill will go directly into healthcare, finding its way into drugs, equipment and other arenas that desperately need help. The massive stimulus package comes on the heels of the Federal Reserve’s latest action, as the central bank recently took its Fed Funds rate back to zero.
Despite recent actions, however, the stock market may still find a fresh low before a long-term bottom is found. On Monday, the benchmark 10-year treasury note yielded just .64 percent, suggesting that risk aversion is still quite prevalent in the marketplace. This degree of risk aversion could point to still higher gold prices in the weeks and months ahead. The gold market ended lower Monday as stocks roared higher, although the yellow metal was only down a few dollars per ounce, not straying far from recent highs.
Also having a negative impact on gold Monday were a dollar index rally and weaker crude oil. The oil market, which has been on a sharp trajectory lower in recent weeks, sank below the psychologically important $20 per barrel level. Crude is now trading at levels not seen since 2002, and the world is rapidly running out of storage areas for the commodity.
In other news, the Russian Central Bank said it plans to put its gold purchases on hold starting April 1st. The Russians have been a major buyer of gold in recent years, adding to their holdings every month for the last three years. Despite their not purchasing gold, the Russian Central Bank is unlikely to become a seller any time soon. The country is currently engaged in a crude oil price war with Saudi Arabia and in a world of ultra-low interest rates may look to maintain its gold holdings to support the value of its currency.
The next several weeks may see ongoing or even increasing market volatility across asset classes, and the gold market could potentially be en route to a fresh high and even a test of previous all-time highs near $2000 per ounce.