TANGIBLE INVESTMENTS - Los Angeles - by James O'Dell - Gold was steady in thin trade on Wednesday, and at the time of this writing was slightly higher at $1,245.10 an ounce while silver was flat at $18.82 an ounce. The dollar retreated amid a raft of weaker than expected economic data that began with the ADP National Employment Report saying that U.S. companies hired just 179,000 workers in May, the lowest monthly increase in four months. "There is no point looking at this number in isolation ... let's take the week as a whole... there are more important things like the ECB tomorrow and the nonfarm payrolls," said Societe Generale's Robin Bhar.
Unfortunately, the Commerce Department added to the bad news when it reported that the U.S. trade deficit ballooned to -$47.2 billion in April, a 6.9 percent jump, as imports surged to a record all time high of $240.6 billion, while exports plunged 0.2 percent to $195.4 billion, after falling for the fourth month out of the past five. Research shows imports included record levels in shipments of foreign-made cars, computers, food, and other goods.
Rounding out the less than stellar economic picture was the Labor Department's research showing U.S. worker productivity declined in the first quarter at the briskest pace in six years. Non-farm labor productivity declined at a 3.2 percent seasonally adjusted annual rate, far from the initial estimate of 1.7 percent that the agency issued last month. Unit labor costs, a favored gauge of inflation, rose 5.7 percent in the first quarter, revised up from an initial estimate of a 4.2 percent gain.
"We expect compensation per hour to keep rising as the labor market tightens, and we look for unit labor costs to become a more positive influence on core inflation later this year." said Barclays Capital's Dean Maki, in a note to clients.
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