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Gold prices holding near session highs above $1800 as ISM manufacturing contracts to 49

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(Kitco News) - The gold market is trading near session highs, holding solid gains above $1,800 an ounce as recession fears continue to grow, with the manufacturing sector falling into contraction territory, according to the latest report from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM).

Thursday, the ISM said its manufacturing PMI fell to 49.0 % last month, missing expectations and down from October’s reading of 50.2%. Economists expected a reading closer to the neutral level at 49.7%.

The gold market has seen significant overnight gains and the latest disappointing economic data is helping prices trade near session highs. February gold futures last traded at $1,817.20 an ounce, up 3.26% on the day.

The report noted that activity in the manufacturing sector is now at its lowest point since May 2020, when the economy was severely disrupted due COVID-19 lockdowns.

“With Business Survey Committee panelists reporting softening new order rates over the previous six months, the November composite index reading reflects companies’ preparing for future lower output,” said Timothy Fiore, chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, in the report.

The components of the report showed broad-based weakness within the manufacturing sector. The New Orders Index fell deeper into contract territory to 47.2%, down from October’s reading of 49.2%. At the same time, the Production Index dropped to 51.5%, down from the previous reading at 52.3%.

However, weaker activity is also helping to cool down inflation. The report said that the Prices Index fell to 43%, down from October’s reading of 46.6%. “This is the index’s lowest reading since May 2020,” the report said.

Paul Ashworth, chief North America Economist at Capital Economics, said that the data shows the economy is stagnating and is expecting to see even weaker activity moving forward.

“Given the global economic weakness – particularly in China and Europe – we wouldn’t be surprised to see the ISM manufacturing index decline further in coming months – leaving it consistent with a recession,” he said.  

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