where investors saw in gold their only heaven as they bought gold as a hedge against the ongoing uncertainties and drove gold prices above the $1000 an ounce level for the first time since March 2008.
A set of data is due to be released today from nearly all major economies, as the Euro Zone which is experiencing the worst recession in its 10 years history, the 16-nation economy contracted during the fourth quarter of this year by 1.5 percent and the outlook suggests that growth will continue to contract for a while in the Euro Zone.
The Euro Zone will release today their current account balance for the month of December, meanwhile Germany will release their IFO confidence index for the month of February, where the business climate index is expected to remain steady at 83.00, while the current assessment index is expected to decline further to 84.9 from the prior estimate of 86.0, and the expectations index is expected to rebound slightly to the upside to 81.1 from the prior estimate of 79.4.
The Euro Zone will also release their industrial new orders for the month of December; orders are expected to have dropped in December by 4.9 percent after falling 4.5% the prior month, while orders are expected to have dropped by 21.7 percent compared with a year earlier.
The Euro Zone economy is still facing huge challenges, especially since the European Central Bank seems to be reluctant to act upon the ongoing recession, the ECB so far has been taking a very cautious stance when it comes to dealing with the ongoing financial crisis, which put them under fire from critics who continue to believe that Mr. Trichet and his fellow ECB members are somehow behind other central banks, especially through the use of the monetary policy tools including the ECB's benchmark interest rates.
Moving on to the U.K. economy which is also suffering from a deepening recession inline with other major economies around the world, the total business investment is expected to have dropped during the fourth quarter by 4.2% after falling by 1.3% previously, while compared with a year earlier total business investment is expected to have dropped by 5.5% after falling by 0.1% only in the prior estimate.
The estimates indeed suggests that a downside revision will be made to the fourth quarter GDP estimate, where the economy contracted by 1.5 percent according to the advanced estimate, the U.K. economy remains under huge pressures whether those which were the result of the ongoing financial crisis, or their domestic factors which includes an ailing housing market and falling consumer spending.
Across the Atlantic Ocean the U.S. economy remains one of the major drags to economic growth all around the globe, as the ongoing recession continues to weigh down on global growth, where expectations of slower global demand is still the dominant theme nowadays in financial markets worldwide.
The S&P/CaseShiller house price index for the month of December should continue to signal that the ongoing housing slump which is the worst since the Great Depression continues, as the index is expected to show the house prices declined 17.2% compared with a year earlier, while house prices is expected to have dropped by 18.30% in the biggest 20 metropolitan areas in the United States, and accordingly the housing sector continues to drag down the world's largest economy into the depth of recession.
Americans remain under huge pressure amid the ongoing recession and the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, as the tightened credit conditions in addition to rising unemployment continues to weigh down on consumers and accordingly their confidence and their spending is sinking deeply.
The Conference Board will release today their consumer confidence index for the month of February, where median estimates are pointing that confidence continued to decline as companies increased the pace of lay offs and more people fear that they might lose their jobs.
Also the Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke will report today the outlook for the economy and the Fed policy, the outlook for the economy remains the same, as the contraction is expected to continue over the course of this year, especially since the Fed signaled in their Minutes last week that the unemployment rate is expected rise beyond their projections, and economic growth will be weaker than their estimates.
The unemployment rate surged in January to 7.6 percent which marked the highest since 1993 as companies continued to fire workers over an increased pace, as more than 1 million people lost their jobs over the last two months only!