Associated Press/Kirsten Grieshaber and Sylvia Hui
More EU nations ban travel from UK, fearing virus variant
A growing list of European Union nations and Canada barred travel from the U.K. on Sunday and others were considering similar action, in a bid to block a new strain of coronavirus sweeping across southern England from spreading to the continent.
France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Ireland and Bulgaria all announced restrictions on U.K. travel, hours after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that Christmas shopping and gatherings in southern England must be canceled because of rapidly spreading infections blamed on the new coronavirus variant.
Johnson immediately placed those regions under a strict new Tier 4 restriction level, upending Christmas plans for millions.
France banned all travel from the U.K. for 48 hours from midnight Sunday, including trucks carrying freight through the tunnel under the English Channel or from the port of Dover on England’s south coast. French officials said the pause would buy time to find a “common doctrine” on how to deal with the threat, but it threw the busy cross-channel route used by thousands of trucks a day into chaos.
The Port of Dover tweeted Sunday night that its ferry terminal was “closed to all accompanied traffic leaving the UK until further notice due to border restrictions in France.”
Eurostar passenger trains from London to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam were also halted.
Germany said all flights coming from Britain, except cargo flights, were no longer allowed to land starting midnight Sunday. It didn’t immediately say how long the flight ban would last. Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said he was issuing a flight ban for 24 hours starting at midnight “out of precaution.” “There are a great many questions about this new mutation,” he said, adding he hoped to have more clarity by Tuesday.
Why gold price will rally to new record highs in a new normal – analysts
Next year will lay out a path for a new normal as COVID-19 vaccines are distributed and the economic recovery gets underway. But where does this leave gold, especially considering that the global monetary policy remains very accommodative?
In 2020, gold rose more than 20%, with the highest peak reached in August when it hit a new record high of $2,075 an ounce. Since then, gold has been consolidating below the $1,900 an ounce level.
The majority of analysts Kitco News spoke to for this outlook is bullish on gold, projecting to see new all-time highs next year. The main drivers cited include inflation, weaker U.S. dollar, economic concerns, currency debasement fears, and low interest rates.
“If you take the optimistic side and imagine that many people do get vaccinated and the vaccine works, then the economy should take off in a serious way in the second half of next year. The inflationary scenario becomes a real possibility, which is positive for metals,” Kitco Metals global trading director Peter Hug said.
As COVID-19 is maintained and controlled, consumer demand will increase and drive the economy higher, creating a supply shortage, which will trigger higher prices and inflation.
“People will return to the real world at a time when the supply of real goods will be constrained. Inventory levels are already very low because of COVID restrictions. On top of that, you had the professional class make more money during the lockdown. And most people in the low-income category also have some extra income due to stimulus. We could see more demand and drastically reduced supply,” said StoneX director of global macro strategy Vincent Deluard.
Inflation seems to be the main risk to watch out for next year, with Capital Economics U.S. economist Andrew Hunter pointing to the very likely rise in goods prices as well as costs of services.
Even some millionaires are cutting back on holiday spending due to Covid
While the Covid crisis has boosted the wealth of many of the richest Americans, it has made some reconsider their holiday spending.
Nearly a quarter of millionaires surveyed for CNBC’s Millionaire Study said they’d spend less this year compared to the 2019 holiday season. At the same time, 65% said they’d spend about the same amount, and 12% planned to spend more.
The survey was conducted in November by Spectrum Group on CNBC’s behalf, and included 750 participants with $1 million or more in investible assets.
There is other evidence that millionaires are slashing their holiday budgets. This year, 27% said they planned to spend less than $500, an uptick of six percentage points from 2019.
To be sure, the reason the wealthy have cut down holiday spending is likely not because they have a lack of funds. Year to date, the stock market has risen roughly 15% through Dec. 17.
Instead, lower holiday spending in 2020 is more likely tied to the health crisis. More than 80% of the millionaires surveyed said they are more worried about the pandemic and its impact on health than their financial situation.
“They have money to spend and they can’t spend it,” said certified financial planner Cathy Curtis, founder and chief executive officer of Curtis Financial Planning, an Oakland, California, firm that specializes in the finances of women and their families. She added that, for many, travel has been put off this year. That’s especially impacting the holidays, especially for those that don’t have local family, she said.
Gold scales 1-1/2-month high on U.S. stimulus deal boost
Gold prices jumped as much as 1% on Monday to a near one-and-a-half-month high, driven by news that an agreement on a long-awaited U.S. fiscal stimulus deal had been reached.
Spot gold rose 0.8% to $1,896.39 per ounce by 0308 GMT, having earlier hit its highest since Nov. 9 at $1,899.29. U.S. gold futures gained 0.7% to $1,902.70.
U.S. congressional leaders reached an agreement on a $900 billion COVID-19 stimulus package on Sunday, with votes likely on Monday.
“Now that we’ve got fiscal stimulus behind us, gold has enough momentum to close above $1,900 by year-end and it could even climb up to $1,925, said Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at financial services firm Axi.
“If you coalesce the stimulus package with optimism for the Federal Reserve to cap longer-dated yields given it signalled a continuation to its bond buying programme last week, we could see gold remain supported on dips until at least March 2021”.
The Fed last week vowed to keep funnelling cash into financial markets and keep rates low until a U.S. economic recovery is secure.
Gold’s advance came despite a stronger dollar, which firmed on tightening of lockdowns globally.
“The worsening pandemic is curbing global economic growth and is forcing global central banks to remain highly dovish, which is bullish for gold as a store of value,” Avtar Sandu, senior commodities manager at Phillip Futures, said in a note.