Gold rises on bleak economic outlook, softer dollar

The euro sinks to near a 21-month low against the US dollar today hurt by a series of dovish signals from the European Central Bank. — Reuters pic

European shares pull back ahead of ECB meeting

Energy: Crude Oil prices falling Friday as clouds gathered over the global economy after the European Central Bank (ECB) warned overnight of continued weakness and fresh data showed Chinese exports and imports fell last month. Citic Securities Co. advised clients to sell the shares, saying they are "significantly overvalued" and could decline more than 50 percent over the next year.

Gold held steady on Friday as risk appetite faded after the European Central Bank cut its growth forecasts and launched an emergency round of policy stimulus, while a strong dollar capped gains ahead of US non-farm payrolls data.

While the timing of the lunar new year made it hard to draw a true signal from the China data noise, the scale was alarming, especially when coupled with sombre new data from Germany and Norway. Exports tumbled 16.6 percent year-on-year in yuan terms, while imports fell by 0.3 percent. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan skidded 1.1 percent to a two-week trough. The S&P 500 was down 20.54 points, or 0.75 percent, to 2,728.39. ECB president Mario Draghi also announced interest rates would be held steady for the rest of this year, and promised a tranche of cheap long-term loans for banks in September. "We were not expecting something so clear, so soon, and markets were not either, so bond yields are likely to stay low for longer". The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury fell 4 basis points.

The ECB decision sent European markets down-a trend which extended to the US-indicating market concerns over global growth. The movement follows the news that the United States trade deficit widened to a 10-year high in 2018, despite President Trump's efforts to narrow it.

Investors are also focused on U.S. There was also a chance the jobless rate could fall by more than forecast given the recent strength in employment.

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The dollar index was down 0.2 percent, having hit a near three-month peak in the previous session after the European Central Bank postponed an interest rate hike until 2020.

"Strong non-farm payrolls results and further positive developments in U.S". It reduced the forecast of inflation for 2019 to 1.2 percent, down from the projection of 1.6 percent in December with similar reductions for the following two years.

On Thursday, gold futures for April ended down $1.50, or 0.1%, at $1,286.10 an ounce.

In commodity markets, oil prices eased as USA crude output and exports climbed to record highs, undermining efforts by producer club Opec to tighten global markets.

US crude was last down 35 cents at $56.31 a barrel, while Brent crude fell 49 cents to $65.81.

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