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Optimism masks anxiety as stocks, oil and gold all hit highs

By Hugh Wilson

Shares and commodities buoyant but popularity of safe-haven gold suggests underlying nervousness

It was a good day for commodities traders as oil continued its week-long recovery and gold climbed towards a seven-year peak.

Coronavirus played a part in both, with oil futures buoyed by an apparent decline in new cases. Brent Crude was up 1.78 per cent at 1500 GMT, with WTI Crude climbing towards a 2 per cent gain.

But the contradictory nature of market sentiment was evident in rising gold prices, with spot gold jumping to $1,610.80 in early trading before pulling back slightly. The early price was the precious metal’s highest since January 8.

Investors are torn. While stock markets nudge record highs, gold continues to act as a safe haven for those who see underlying weakness in economic data.

Like oil futures, global equity markets were lifted by hints that coronavirus is spreading more slowly, as well as media reports that China was considering cash injections for affected businesses.

In addition, markets interpreted a renewed commitment by Chinese president Xi Jinping to meeting 2020 growth targets as a clear sign that more fiscal stimulus is planned.

That juicy carrot resulted in a rise of over 200 points, or 0.89 per cent for Japan’s Nikkei 225 index, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng closed 0.46 per cent up on the day.

European markets flirted with record highs, with the pan-European Euro STOXX 50 gaining 0.69 per cent and the German DAX up over 107 points. London’s FTSE 100 climbed over 1 per cent through the day. US indices also started strongly.

In the currency markets the euro continued to feel pressure, weighed down by dismal German investor sentiment. One euro was worth $1.079 at 15.30 GMT. The euro fell below $1.08 for the first time in three years on Tuesday, with Wednesday seeing no immediate improvement.

Bitcoin was trading at $10,289 at 17.30 GMT.

FURTHER READING: Gold price this month and beyond: the yellow metal is likely to trend higher

FURTHER READING: Apple demand and supply hit by coronavirus

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