Gold hits record, equities edge higher on stimulus hopes

FILE PHOTO: Gold bars and coins are stacked in the safe deposit boxes room of the Pro Aurum gold house in Munich

By David Randall

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Global equity benchmarks edged higher and gold soared to an all-time high on Monday as investors weighed expectations for another U.S. stimulus package against concerns that rising tensions between the United States and China will the slow the global economy’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Gold jumped 2% to surpass its 2011 highs, and put $2,000 per ounce in sight. Silver climbed 7.5%, to take its July streak past 30%, which would be its best month on record.

China took over the premises of the U.S. consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu on Monday, after ordering that the facility be vacated in retaliation after the U.S. ordered the shutdown of China’s consulate in Houston amid accusations of spying.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington and its allies must use “more creative and assertive ways” to press the Chinese Communist Party to change its ways.

“U.S. President (Donald) Trump used to say China’s President Xi Jinping is a great leader. But now Pompeo’s wording is becoming so aggressive that markets are starting to worry about further escalation,” said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.86% following mixed trading in Asia and broad declines in Europe after the United Kingdom imposed a quarantine on travelers returning from Spain, which has seen an increase in coronavirus cases.

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Graphic: Global currencies vs. dollar –

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Graphic: MSCI All Country Wolrd Index Market Cap –

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 116.26 points, or 0.44%, to 26,586.15, the S&P 500 gained 23.88 points, or 0.74%, to 3,239.51, and the Nasdaq Composite added 173.09 points, or 1.67%, to 10,536.27.

Hopes for a quick U.S. economic recovery are fading as coronavirus infections showed few signs of slowing.

That means the economy could suffer without fresh support from the government, with some earlier steps such as enhanced jobless benefits due to expire this month.

Senate Republicans were expected to unveil a $1 trillion stimulus package late Monday. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the package will contain extended unemployment benefits with 70% “wage replacement.”

Concerns about the U.S. economic outlook have also started to weigh on the dollar. The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six other major currencies, dropped 0.5% to its lowest level in nearly two years.

The euro gained 0.5% to a 22-month high of $1.1725, continuing a winning streak since last week’s agreement on a 750 billion-euro post-pandemic EU recovery fund.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes last fell 8/32 in price to yield 0.6135%, from 0.589% late on Friday.

“If you look at the fact that the dollar’s been higher yielding than many other currencies for quite a while, and with some of the benefits of that being eroded … and also the continued demand for a safe haven, it all plays into gold’s strengthening,” said Shafali Sachdev, the head of FX Asia at BNP Paribas Wealth Management in Singapore. “And at this point, there doesn’t seem any obvious factor that could help the trend to draw to a close.”

The hopes for a U.S. stimulus measure helped lift oil prices. U.S. crude recently rose 0.78% to $41.61 per barrel and Brent was at $43.51, up 0.39% on the day.

(Reporting by David Randall. Additional reporting by Sujata Rao and Marc Jones in London, Hideyuki Sano in Tokyo and Tom Westbrook in Singapore; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Leslie Adler)