Safe havens rallied at the open after North Korea fired four ballistic missiles, three of them fell within Japan's exclusive economic zone, stoking concerns in the markets, and after China downgraded its forecasts for growth this year to 6.5%.
Gold prices gained eight dollars, or 0.61% to $1,234 an ounce, while silver advanced 15 cents, or 0.86% to $17.89 an ounce, however, the path ahead remains precarious for the precious metals, as the Federal Reserve nears a rate hike in its next meeting on March 14-15, hurting no-yield assets such as gold and silver.
The dollar held steady on Monday on the near-certain prospects of a Fed rate hike, with the index adding 0.10% against a basket of six major currencies to trade at 101.44, however, markets have already priced in the possible rate hike, leaving little momentum for the greenback for the coming weeks.
Investors are concerned as well about U.S. president Donald Trump's latest political controversies, which are viewed as distraction from his fiscal policies and tax reform efforts, in turn casting some doubt over dollar's momentum ahead.
Oil prices on the other hand gave up ground today after earlier U.S. data showed the oil rig count up to 609 last week, the highest figure since October 2015, while Russian February data released last week showed no change in output, indicating weak compliance with the OPEC deal to cut production, and threatening crude's recent upward momentum.
Brent crude futures added 21 cents, or 0.38% to trade at $55.69 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 24 cents, or 0.45% to hover around $53.09 a barrel.
Back to currencies, with the euro losing 0.16% versus the dollar today to 1.0604 as investors keep a close eye on France's looming presidential elections, while the yen rose 0.20% to 113.83, with more gains to come if risk appetite soured further.
Investors now await later U.S. data on factory orders, expected to have risen 1.1% in January, slowing down from 1.3% in December, while Federal Open Market Committee member Neel Kashkari is scheduled to speak later today, expected to stay on the same bullish tune as his colleagues, in turn cementing the prospects of a rate hike this month and underpinning the dollar.
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