Global Stocks, Gold Prices Surge on Merkel Speech

Gold prices and global equities surged Friday after German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a change in the European Union treaty to ensure authentic fiscal discipline and thus preserve the Eurozone.

Her speech to German lawmakers signaled what Europe's dominant economy will seek at a key eurozone summit in Brussels on Dec. 9. The gathering marks the latest attempt in a two-year effort to contain the sovereign debt crisis that has engulfed the 17-member monetary union and left many of its banks struggling to survive.

"There is no way around changing the European treaties, or as a second-best option agreeing to new treaties," Merkel said. "We are going to Brussels with the aim of pushing through treaty changes. That is with the spirit of wanting to avoid a division of euro countries and non-euro member states."

The speech, combined with other developments this week, strengthened investor preference for risky assets like equities and commodities over safe havens like the dollar.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and central banks from Canada, Japan, Switzerland and Britain jointly lowered the cost to the ECB of obtaining dollars. China's central bank also injected liquidity Wednesday into its economy.

U.S. manufacturing expanded at a faster rate in November and the overall economy grew for the 30th consecutive month, the Institute for Supply Management said Thursday. The index rose to 52.7 percent rather than the 52 percent analysts expected. Construction spending also rose last month.

The central bank action, the U.S. economic reports and Merkel's speech Friday extended a stock and commodity rally. Since Wednesday the S&P 500 is up 4.3 percent, Comex copper is up 4.2 percent, gold is up 1.2 percent and palladium has rocketed 7.9 percent.

The dollar has fallen 1.7 percent against the euro since Monday. In early trading Friday the greenback was down 0.2 percent to 78.31 against a group of major currencies.

Major Asian stock indexes were all higher and European stock indexes climbed more than 1 percent. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Nasdaq 100 and the S&P 500 all pointed to a higher opening.

Gold for February delivery climbed $14 to $1,753.80, while gold for immediate delivery added $5.25 $1,749.30.

Silver for March delivery was up 58 cents to $33.34, while silver for immediate delivery rose 53 cents to $33.30.