After rising 4.64% in August, Comex gold futures rose a further 1.06% in September to close at $1,703.2 on Thursday. Month-to-date, the S&P 500 returned 1.81%, the Euro 50 Index surged 3.45% and the Euro/Dollar Index rose 0.41%. The Dollar Index fell 0.11% in September after falling 1.73% in August.
The world has high hopes of further global stimulus as recent economic data from the US, euro area and China all show a weakening trend. The high unemployment rate in the US and uncertainty in the euro crisis have impacted spending and investment plans elsewhere. The US August ISM index dropped 0.2 point to 49.6 with new orders and employment index also dropping. The euro area PMI was revised down in August while the Chinese August HSBC PMI fell to a three-year low, raising doubt of the government's 2012 growth target of 7.5%.
External markets rallied big on Thursday when the ECB Governor Mario Draghi unveiled the details of his much-anticipated bond purchasing program, although the measures were leaked the day before. The ECB will buy unlimited amount of short-dated bonds with maturities up to three years while "sterilizing" the bond purchase to keep the money supply neutral. The ten-year bond rates of Italy, Spain and Portugal rallied 25 to 39 basis points upon the announcement. The ECB action will buy some time for the big borrowers in Europe such as Italy and Spain to prevent their borrowing costs from blowing through the roof. While in the short-term borrowing costs may be lowered, the underlying competitiveness issues of the euro zone are still not addressed.
Traders have positioned themselves for a good month in gold in September. According to Bloomberg, gold open futures contracts jumped to a three-month high as of Aug. 31 while the gold-backed ETPs holdings surged to an all-time high of 2,471.97 metric tons as of Thursday. Festival demand in India and expectations of ECB measures also caused the gold bar price in India to touch an all-time high of rupee 32,300 per 10 grams on Thursday.
In the coming days, market will likely focus on the US non-farm payroll data on Friday, Chinese industrial production data on Sunday, the German constitutional court ruling on ESM on Sept.12, the US FOMC monetary policy announcements on Sept. 13 and the Eurogroup's decision on Spanish debt purchase on Sept. 15.