US stocks hover near record highs, gold breaches $1,500

REUTERS
ISTANBUL
Published 24.12.2019 21:41
A one kilo gold bar is displayed in a shop in Dubai's gold souk, April 11, 2006. Reuters Photo
A one kilo gold bar is displayed in a shop in Dubai's gold souk, April 11, 2006. (Reuters Photo)

Gold surged past $1,500 to the ounce and a gauge of global equity markets hovered near record highs on Tuesday, in a year-end rally spurred by hopes of a U.S.-Sino Phase 1 trade deal and China's latest policy easing pledge buoying investor optimism.

President Donald Trump said he and Chinese President Xi Jinping would hold a ceremony for the signing of the initial phase of the pending trade pact, the latest remarks by the U.S. leader indicating the deal being on the verge of being finalized.

European stocks ground out fresh record gains, as did the Nasdaq after Wall Street opened, with equities remaining on track to post their best year in a decade.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index added 0.12% to touch an all-time high while the U.K.'s domestically focused Mid Cap Points Index rose 0.6% to a new high.

France's CAC 40 and Spain's IBEX 35 both closed with little change, while German, Italian and Swiss country indexes were closed for the day.

Blue-chip shares in China rose 0.7% after Premier Li Keqiang said the government was considering more measures to lower corporate financing costs and hinted at "targeted" cuts in banks' reserve requirement ratio.

Gold's surge above $1,500 an ounce was big news in a quiet pre-Christmas session, and a sign that investors may be hedging against a possible inflation hike next year, said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors in Boston.

"Even today, with lighter volumes and high absenteeism, gold has breached $1,500 and energy stocks are starting to rise a little bit," Arone said.

"It's hard to take too much away on a day like today. But to me, it's indicative of this idea that potentially you could have an inflation scare in 2020 and perhaps investors are beginning to position themselves for such a scare," Arone said.

Arone said he doubted inflation will be strong enough to negatively impact the market, but it could provide a jolt to investors lulled by interest rates below the historic norm.

U.S. gold futures hit a high of $1,502.20 an ounce.

MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.01%, while its emerging market index lost 0.23%.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 19.97 points, or 0.07%, to 28,531.56. The S&P 500 lost 0.28 points, or 0.01%, to 3,223.73 and the Nasdaq Composite added 3.41 points, or 0.04%, to 8,949.06.

The dollar eased against the euro in holiday-thinned trading and U.S. Treasury yields slipped. Eurozone bond markets were shut.

The dollar index fell 0.02%, with the euro up 0.04% to $1.109. The Japanese yen strengthened 0.04% versus the greenback to 109.36 per dollar.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 6/32 in price to yield 1.9154%.

Oil prices rose after Russia announced that, in cooperation with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, supply cuts would continue, amid optimism that the United States and China could finalize the trade pact.

Meanwhile, Brent crude gained 74 cents, rising to $67.13 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate rose 46 cents to $60.98 a barrel.

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