Gold imports by India, which competes with China for the role of world’s biggest consumer, are said to have risen almost three-fold in February from a year earlier as jewellers increased stockpiles before the festival and wedding period that starts next month.
Shipments jumped 175% to 96.4 metric tons in February from a year earlier, according to a person familiar with provisional data from the finance ministry, who asked not to be identified as the data aren’t public. Overseas purchases slid 32% to 595.5 tons in the 11 months to February. Ministry spokesman D. S. Malik declined to comment on the data.
After a lull in demand exacerbated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move to withdraw high denomination currency notes, jewellers are building up inventories.
They expect to see some recovery in purchases ahead of India’s wedding season and on the auspicious Hindu gold-buying day of Akshaya Tritiya that falls toward the end of April this year.
The price of a bitcoin has climbed above that of a troy ounce of gold for the first time on record after the cryptocurrency enjoyed a dramatic upswing in interest since last year.
Bitcoin has jumped by nearly 33 per cent this year to trade at $1,265 on Thursday amid a surge in interest in China, where the authorities fret the digital currency is being used to facilitate capital flight from the country. Bitcoin has risen nearly 200 per cent over the past 12 months, despite efforts to curb its use in China.
Of course, comparing gold to bitcoin is arbitrary, given that the precious metal is measured in weight – a troy ounce of gold (about 31 grams) cost $1,233 on Thursday – while the virtual currency beloved of technologists is entirely ephemeral and abstract. But the cross is nonetheless symbolic of its unexpected staying power and influence in certain circles.
Although most of the interest has shifted towards the potential wider usages of blockchain – the electronic ledger that underpins bitcoin – the Securities and Exchange Commission is currently considering a proposal for an exchange-traded fund backed by bitcoin.
SEC officials on February 14 met with Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss – the bitcoin ETF’s champions – to discuss the proposal and a decision is due by March 11, according to Bloomberg.
The digital currency came close to the headline gold price in late 2013, when it spiked above $1,000 per dollar for the first time, but then quickly halved in value in 2014, traded sideways for much of 2015 before embarking on a sharp rally in the middle of last year.
Amid a fresh escalation in a row over its bailout conditions, Greece’s stubbornly high unemployment rate is showing no sign of improvement.
The country’s jobless rate – which is the highest in the eurozone and has been above 20 per cent for six years – stuck at 23 per cent in November despite a general uptick in its economic prospects at the end of 2016.
It comes as the country’s creditors in the EU and the International Monetary Fund have publicly clashed over their respective forecasts for the state of the economy and the level of austerity attached to Greece’s three-year bailout programme this week.
The IMF has been accused by Athens and Brussels of an “overly pessimistic” view on the Syriza government’s ability to hit a 3.5 per cent budget surplus target over the next decade, which has led it to a wrong-headed forecast on Greece’s “explosive” debt dynamics.
The Fund’s latest report on the Greek economy suggest its debt-to-GDP mountain could reach 275 per cent over the next two decades without major debt restructuring. Unemployment meanwhile will only fall to 21.7 per cent this year, while the country’s long-term growth rate was downgraded to 1 per cent, IMF economists predict.
Japan accounted for $68.9 billion of the U.S. trade deficit on goods in 2016, re-emerging as the second-largest contributor for the first time in three years for a potential flashpoint when the leaders of the two nations meet Friday.
The overall U.S. trade deficit on goods shrank by 1.5% to $734.3 billion last year on a Census basis, according to Department of Commerce data released Tuesday. Exports fell 3.2% to $1.45 trillion on a strong dollar, but imports decreased 2.6% to $2.18 trillion.
The country logged a $247.8 billion surplus on services, bringing the overall U.S. trade deficit to $502.3 billion on a balance of payments basis.
The goods deficit with Japan remained roughly flat and accounted for 9% of the U.S. total. The deficit on motor vehicles and parts — an area in which President Donald Trump claims Japan engages in unfair practices — jumped to $52.6 billion from $48.9 billion in 2015, making up nearly 80% of the total American deficit with Japan.
Japanese automakers are increasing production in North America. But cars sold from Japan to the U.S. tend to be higher-end models, and the average price per unit is rising.
China was the top contributor to the U.S. trade deficit on goods, accounting for $347 billion, or 47%. Germany ranked third and Mexico fourth. Trump, seeking to curb the deficit, has accused Japan, China and Germany of manipulating their currencies. The president also demands a renegotiation of NAFTA with Mexico.
Don’t anyone accuse Brazil’s central bank of not being bold.
In a unanimous decision, the bank cut its policy interest rate by 75 basis points on Wednesday, exceeding the consensus call for a 50bps cut and sharply picking up the pace on an easing cycle it began with two back-to-back cuts of 25bps each in October and November
In a statement, the bank said economic activity had fallen below expectations and that a recovery would take longer than previously anticipated.
It also noted data released earlier in the day showing inflation falling faster than expected to 6.3 per cent in the year to December 31 – the first time in two years it has been within the central bank’s target range of 4.5 per cent plus or minus 2 percentage points. Market economists expect it to end 2017 at 4.81 per cent, according to the central bank’s latest weekly survey.
The size of the cut will be welcomed by many, given the economy’s stubborn refusal to return to growth. The rebound expected by many when congress ditched president Dilma Rousseff last year has failed to happen. GDP contracted by 8 per cent over the past two years under Rousseff’s watch; her pro-growth, market-friendly successor, Michel Temer, was expected to turn things round quickly.
India’s foreign exchange reserves declined by $935.2 million to $359.671 billion in the week to December 23 on account of fall in foreign currency assets, the Reserve Bank said on Friday.
In the previous week, the reserves had fallen by $2.380 billion to $360.606 billion.
They had touched a life-time high of $371.99 billion in the week to September 30, 2016.
Foreign currency assets (FCAs), a major component of the overall reserves, dipped by $933.2 million to $335.970 billion in the reporting week.
FCAs, expressed in US dollar terms, include the effects of appreciation/depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and the yen held in the reserves.
Gold reserves remained steady at $19.982 billion in the reporting week, the RBI said.
The special drawing rights with the International Monetary Fund decreased by $0.9 million to $1.427 billion, while India’s reserve position with the Fund too declined by $1.1 million to $2.290 billion, the data showed.
It was just one year ago when the biggest worry for the market – which culminated with a near 10% S&P correction in in early 2016 – was the daily plunge in the Yuan driven by the surging dollar, which in turn prompted China to engage in an unprecedented reserve liquidation (in which it sold both government bonds and equities), leading to a daily selloff in risky assets on days when the Yuan was fixed lower.
Fast forward a year later, when the US Dollar has blown through last year’s highs and is now at levels not seen since 2003, the Yuan is trading at record lows, just shy of 7.00, and yet stocks stubbornly ignore the one catalyst that led to so much headache for the bulls one year ago.
In his daily note, RBC’s cross-asset strategist Charlie McElligott points out that while the market may be oblivious, what is taking place in China is something to be concerned about:
ONE IMPORTANT TACTICAL MACRO POINT WITH REGARDS TO THE NEAR-TERM DIRECTION OF USTs / GLOBAL LONG-END: The yuan ‘slow bleed’ devaluation by the PBoC versus the USD seen since the start of October has without question been tied to at least some of the weakness in the US long-end, as the central bank sells USTs to try and mitigate the depreciation of the yuan against the SDR basket—see here: