The charts that matter: collapsing oil and soaring gold

After a week in which the oil price went negative and the gold price soared, John Stepek looks at how the charts that matter most to the global eocnomy fared.

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Podcasts galore

Merryn has gone seriously podcast-happy in the last few weeks, and they’re all gems, so I’m just going to give you a quick rundown of all the most recent ones – give them all a listen, they’re excellent.

This week, she spoke to Ruffer’s Alexander Chartres about how the remarkably benign financial and geopolitical era we’ve been living through is drawing to an end, with that process being accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic. There is light at the end of the tunnel though – sort of.

Then before that we had Professor Steve Keen on debt jubilees; the FT’s Gillian Tett on New York lockdown; Intertemporal Economics founder Brian Pellegrini on why things might not be quite as bad as they appear; and financial historian Russell Napier on financial repression. Ideal listening material for your daily walk!

Oh and for something lighter, I joined The Week Unwrapped team this week to talk about press freedom, the price of gold, and... calorie counting.

And here are the links for this week’s editions of Money Morning plus other stories you might have missed on the website this week.

Oh and if you’re looking around for opportunities, now is probably the ideal time to improve your investing knowledge with The Sceptical Investor – my guide to contrarian investing...

The charts that matter

Gold (measured in dollar terms) has had another good week. On the one hand, the reality and prospect of lots of money printing tends to be good for gold. On the other hand, the ongoing fear that this rally can’t last has kept “safe haven” assets propped up too.

Gold price chart

(Image credit: Gold price chart)

(Gold: three months)

The US dollar index – a measure of the strength of the dollar against a basket of the currencies of its major trading partners – clawed a little higher this week, again probably due to the “safe haven” bid.

US dolar index chart

(Image credit: US dolar index chart)

(DXY: three months)

The Chinese yuan (or renminbi) remains above the $1/¥7 mark, but has been relatively stable.

Chinese yuan / US dollar chart

(Image credit: Chinese yuan / US dollar chart)

(Chinese yuan to the US dollar: since 25 Jun 2019)

The yield on the ten-year US government bond remains extremely low as investors are reluctant to sell their “risk-free” assets.

US Treasury bonds chart

(Image credit: US Treasury bonds chart)

(Ten-year US Treasury yield: three months)

The yield on the Japanese ten-year was little changed, even with talk that the Bank of Japan might do unlimited quantitative easing (although that’s pretty much what it’s already doing, or at least allowed to do).

Japanese government bonds chart

(Image credit: Japanese government bonds chart)

(Ten-year Japanese government bond yield: three months)

The yield on the ten-year German bund meanwhile, was little changed on last week, as the European Union continued to struggle to come up with an agreement for a coronavirus aid package that all member states are happy with.

German bunds yield chart

(Image credit: German bunds yield chart)

(Ten-year Bund yield: three months)

Copper has continued to rally which is one bright spot – it suggests that the economy hasn’t entirely disappeared.

Copper price chart

(Image credit: Copper price chart)

(Copper: three months)

The Aussie dollar has continued to hold up against the US dollar, partly because Australia seems to be having a good crisis.

Australian dollar chart

(Image credit: Australian dollar chart)

(Aussie dollar vs US dollar exchange rate: three months)

Cryptocurrency bitcoin surged somewhat higher this week.

Bitcoin price chart

(Image credit: Bitcoin price chart)

(Bitcoin: ten days)

US weekly jobless claims were once horrendous, although that’s now expected. This week, jobless claims came in at 4.43 million, lower than the 5.24 million seen last week. That means more than 26 million people have now been pushed onto America’s dole queues in the last five weeks. The four-week moving average now sits at 5.8 million, a fresh all-time record.

The only positive thing you can say is that the number of new claims is coming down. But the main issue now will be how quickly people can get back to work.

US jobless numbers chart

(Image credit: US jobless numbers chart)

(US jobless claims, four-week moving average: since January 2016)

Oil in general had a remarkable week, although you wouldn’t really know it to look at the oil price chart below, which shows Brent crude, the international/European benchmark. Oil as measured by the US benchmark, WTI, turned negative at one point - you can learn more about that here, but it had a significant knock-on effect, with Brent sliding hard from its recent rebound.

Brent crude oil price chart

(Image credit: Brent crude oil price chart)

(Brent crude oil: three months)

Amazon shares have continued to make new highs despite the travails of the wider market. Perhaps ironically, the tech stocks are the ones that led the bull market and now they’re the ones that have thrived and survived the bear market best too.

Tesla share price chart

(Image credit: Tesla share price chart)

(Amazon: three months)

Electric car group Tesla meanwhile was a bit lower, partly due to wider concerns that low oil prices might end up putting a dent in the case for electric cars.

(Tesla: three months)

Have a good weekend.

John Stepek

John is the executive editor of MoneyWeek and writes our daily investment email, Money Morning. John graduated from Strathclyde University with a degree in psychology in 1996 and has always been fascinated by the gap between the way the market works in theory and the way it works in practice, and by how our deep-rooted instincts work against our best interests as investors.

He started out in journalism by writing articles about the specific business challenges facing family firms. In 2003, he took a job on the finance desk of Teletext, where he spent two years covering the markets and breaking financial news. John joined MoneyWeek in 2005.

His work has been published in Families in Business, Shares magazine, Spear's Magazine, The Sunday Times, and The Spectator among others. He has also appeared as an expert commentator on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, BBC Radio Scotland, Newsnight, Daily Politics and Bloomberg. His first book, on contrarian investing, The Sceptical Investor, was released in March 2019. You can follow John on Twitter at @john_stepek.