Gold prices are higher and hit a two-week high in early U.S. trading Wednesday, following a U.S. retail sales report that did not meet market expectations. June gold futures pushed above the important $1,200.00 level. Silver prices hit a six-week high above $17.00 an ounce. Short covering in the futures market and bargain hunting in the cash market are featured. Some slight safe-haven demand is also seen. June Comex gold was last up $12.10 at $1,204.50 an ounce. July Comex silver was last up $0.519 at $17.04 an ounce.

U.S. retail sales for April came in unchanged from March, when a 0.2% rise was expected. The retail sales report is one of the most important U.S. economic data points of the month. The U.S. dollar index slumped on the news and is hovering near a four-month low.

World bond markets have stabilized Wednesday, following the recent rout of many countries’ bonds. The recent world bond market sell-off in prices (rising yields) has spilled over into selling pressure in many major world stock markets. The world bond market jitters have also provided some increased demand for safe-haven gold.

In overnight news, Euro zone first-quarter GDP came in at up 0.4% from the fourth quarter of last year and up 1.6% year-on-year. European stock markets were buoyed on the upbeat economic news.

There was mixed but mostly downbeat economic data coming out of China Wednesday. Chinese industrial production rose 5.9% in April, which was up a bit from March but is still running at the slowest pace in several years. Fixed-asset investment was up 9.6% in April, from up 13.1% in March. Total financing in April was up 12.4%, which was the lowest pace on record. One upbeat piece of China economic data Wednesday saw housing sales increase for the first time since December of 2013.

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