European Central Bank ready to signal shift in quantitative easing policy

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Spot gold added $5 (+0.4%) to trade near $1,322/oz.

But critics say that the scheme has run its course and in a period of above trend growth, artificially low borrowing costs risk more damage than good by inflating asset price bubbles. In the meantime, the Platinum Group Metals continued to move in opposite directions.

Platinum was 1pc higher at $980.50 an ounce after touching $982.10, the highest since Sept 15.

The dollar slumped against rivals on Friday on the back of weak factory inflation data, while the euro enjoyed solid support after the European Central Bank hinted that it could be gearing up to trim its massive monetary stimulus. The Australian dollar rose to $0.7891, from $0.7842, but shied away from stiff chart resistance at $0.7900. With the Federal Reserve already planning to continue to normalize interest rates throughout 2018, many expect that the European Central Bank is likely to gradually follow suit.

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"The language pertaining to various dimensions of the monetary policy stance and forward guidance could be revisited early in the coming year", the accounts showed, referring to 2018.

The Labor Department said its producer price index for final demand edged down by 0.1 percent in December after climbing by 0.4 percent in November. The index is used as a measure of wholesale price inflation.

In Europe, reports that German policymakers are set to resolve a months-long political stalemate added to news yesterday that the European Central Bank is open to tweaking its policy guidance soon to align it with a strengthening economy.

The Canadian dollar steadied against the greenback after hitting a almost two-week low as investors weighed chances of a Bank of Canada interest rate hike next week and anxious about the possibility of a US withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement. Stock futures pointed 0.15% lower on Wall St while shares in Europe and Asia fell modestly.

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USA treasury yields fell on Thursday after China disputed a media report that its government officials had recommended the country slow or halt its purchases of United States bonds. This is the largest and most important piece of economic data from the USA after the employment report and hence, this should bring in a lot of volatility.

Italy's 10-year government bond yield was down 8 basis points at 1.98 percent and the spread over the German equivalent was at its tightest since mid-December at 146 basis points at one stage. Of course, China may only be disputing the news about cutting back on buying US bonds in order to unload their Treasurys at better prices.

Bitcoin was 11.5 per cent lower at US$13,185 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange after South Korea's government said it plans to ban cryptocurrency trading. Regulators are concerned that speculation is becoming rampant and threatening the stability of exchanges and financial institutions.

Investors warned that while rising oil prices were supportive, they could weigh negatively especially on crude-consuming regions.

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US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures changed hands at $63.58, down 0.3% on the day.

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