Precious metals rose strongly on Monday as uncertainty returned to markets following a renewed drop in oil prices and a sharp contraction in China's manufacturing sector, which intensified worries over the world's second largest economy's resilience, and pushed western equity markets downwards. Other bleak data from Asia include a plunge in South Korea's exports to levels last seen in 2009.
Gold futures rose an impressive 11 dollars, or one percent to trade at $1,127 an ounce, the highest since early November. Silver prices also took advantage of the global sentiment, gaining eight cents, or half a percent to $14.31 an ounce.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback's performance against a basket of counterparts, skidded nearly 0.60% to 99.02, as other currency launched attacks after positive data in their respective economies. Britain's manufacturing PMI rose 52.9, handily beating expectations of 51.8, and better than December's 52.1. Sterling jumped 0.85% against the dollar after the data to 1.4362.
Oil prices took a hit from waning expectations for a previously-hoped-for deal between Russia and OPEC to cut production, combined with a global risk-avert sentiment after the weak China data. Brent crude futures plunged $1.30, or 3.58% to $34.77 a barrel, while U.S. crude futures plummeted $1.46, or 4.34% to trade at $32.26 a barrel.
Wall Street opened sharply lower, tumbling more than one percent at one point before paring some losses, with Dow Jones trading at 16,366, down a hundred points, or 0.63%. NASDAQ Composite gave up 24 points, or half a percent to 4,589. S&P 500 shed 11 points, or 0.60% to 1,928.