London (CNN Business)Happy Wednesday. A version of this story first appeared in CNN Business’ Before the Bell newsletter. Not a subscriber? You can sign up right here.
In a moment of uncertainty for investors, safe haven assets are getting a boost. That’s been good news for gold.Earlier this week, gold rallied to a brief high of $1,555 a troy ounce. That level was last seen in April 2013, before prices collapsed as much as 15% in a matter of days, according to a recent report from UBS strategist Joni Teves.Gold has tempered its rise slightly in recent days, and is currently near $1,551, looking at futures contracts for December. But Teves thinks the outlook remains strong. “Persistent uncertainty is likely to keep gold well supported,” she said. At this point, she noted, there’s a “relatively high threshold for easing investor concerns” about trade. Falling bond yields also make gold look more attractive.So, how high could the metal go? Teves said gold could move as high as $1,600 between now and the end of the year, though it might make a “pit stop” at $1,580.Read More Global backdrop: The 2-year and 10-year yield curve remains inverted, historically a precursor to a recession. That’s raising fears about whether investors should really be piling into riskier assets like stocks.From Morgan Stanley, in a note Wednesday morning: “The US yield curve has become the most inverted in 12 years. … We expect risk appetite to ease from here.”Gold isn’t the only safe haven asset to benefit from that shift. The yield on benchmark US 10-year Treasuries is holding near a three-year low, indicating heightened demand. The Japanese yen has also received a bump. “Given the persistent nature of the US-China trade conflict, which has injected greater doses of recession fears into markets, the overall demand for safe haven assets is expected to remain resolute,” said Han Tan, market analyst at FXTM, a currency broker.Investors don’t love a Philip Morris-Altria reunionPhilip Morris (PM) and Altria (MO) — which was one, giant tobacco company before they announced a split in 2007 — could be getting back together. One roadblock: Investors don’t love the deal.Altria and Philip Morris are in talks about reuniting to form a tobacco behemothThe two companies said Tuesday that they’re in talks to reunite. Both sell the Marlboro brand; Philip Morris sells tobacco products internationally, while Altria does business in the United States. The combined company could be worth more than $200 billion.The logic, from my CNN Business colleague Paul R. La Monica in New York: “Both Altria and Philip Morris are grappling with how to rejuvenate sales growth at a time when a growing number of cigarette smokers around the world are quitting because of well-documented links to cancer and heart disease.”Philip Morris is investing heavily in products like its iQOS electronic cigarettes. Altria, meanwhile, bought a 35% stake in vaping company Juul last year.But news of the talks was met with skepticism on Wall Street, which is worried about regulatory issues in the United States. Shares of Philip Morris dropped nearly 8%, while Altria’s stock fell 4%. The question now: Will these companies press on?Billions of dollars are flowing to Saudi ArabiaBetween an escalating US-China trade war, low oil prices and fears of a global economic slowdown, investors have had plenty of reasons to dump emerging market stocks this summer. But one country is doing just fine: Saudi Arabia.Boban Markovic, a researcher at The Institute for International Finance, told me that Saudi Arabia has received close to $18 billion in equity inflows this year.The big reason has been the country’s addition to closely-watched emerging market indexes, most notably the MSCI Emerging Markets Index (EEM). This week, its weighting in the index jumped to 2.8% from about 1.5%.Markovic expects that change to bring in an additional $5 billion to $6 billion — showing the power of passive investing, especially for a country that has seen its international reputation take a hit in the past year.Up nextExpress (EXPR) and Tiffany & Co. (TIF) report earnings before the US market open. Box (BOX), Five Below (FIVE) and H&R Block will follow after US markets close.Also today:US Energy Information Administration reports on crude oil inventories at 10:30 a.m. ET.Coming tomorrow: How have US dollar stores fared amid economic growth fears?