The global increase in demand for physical Gold began in the fourth quarter of 2012 and continued into the first quarter of 2013 as the aggregate metric tons of physical Gold taken by bar and coin buyers increased from approximately 336 tonnes to approximately 377 tonnes, an increase of over 12%. Physical Gold bar and coin demand in the United States grew from approximately 17 tonnes in the fourth quarter of 2012 to approximately 20 tonnes in the first quarter of 2013, an increase of approximately 22%.
Disappointing data from the monthly United States jobs report is the latest news to cause concern over the American economy and prompt a spike in Precious Metals prices. The continued lack of stronger economic statistics is propelling the anticipation of further monetary easing by the Federal Reserve. Economist Mark Zandi described the sentiment of the individual worker, stating, “They (workers) are still feeling pretty awful. They recognize that we’ve made progress, that we’ve gone from losing a boatload of jobs to seeing some growth, but that’s very little solace in the context of an (8.1 percent) unemployment rate.”
Central banks from nations around the globe have been amassing sizable Gold reserves in recent years as a reaction to the global financial crisis. The World Gold Council recently announced that Russia has doubled its stockpile in the past five years by purchasing a half-billion dollars’ worth of Gold every month. If the Fed announces further quantitative easing and world economic leaders such as Russia continue accumulating large quantities of Gold, the price of the yellow metal is likely to continue its upward climb.
At 1 p.m. (EDT), the APMEX Precious Metals spot prices were:
- Gold, $1,738.30, Up $33.70.
- Silver, $33.68, Up $1.01.
- Platinum, $1,593.30, Up $5.90.
- Palladium, $654.40, Up $6.70.
Gold waited all week for direction:
As the week started gold and other markets had all eyes on a small town in Wyoming called Jackson Hole. That is where an annual meeting is held by the U.S. Federal Reserve and in the past has given way to significant monetary action such as two rounds of easing. There was a lot of speculation and waiting for news. For some, it was not going to be an extraordinary event. Many financial specialists believe the Jackson Hole meeting will not be the critical event that could trigger further government financial stimulus this time around. “The critical period is really from Friday to the 12th (of September) — the constitutional court decision,” said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vt. Many others shared a different view of the meetings of the Fed. While the question remains whether there will be another round of monetary easing, if the answer is “no,” it could affect Gold’s price. “We see near term risks of a reversal if Jackson Hole does not deliver what the market is hoping for,” said Nick Trevethan, senior metals strategist at ANZ in Singapore. Friday came and so did the report with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke giving indications that the Fed will soon embark on another round of bond buying, otherwise known as quantitative easing (QE). “It is important to achieve further progress, particularly in the labor market,” Bernanke said. “Taking due account of the uncertainties and limits of its policy tools, the Federal Reserve will provide additional policy accommodation as needed to promote a stronger economic recovery and sustained improvement in labor market conditions in a context of price stability.” Bernanke cited previous rounds of easing as effective in stimulating economic development and job creation without hastening inflation.
Europe still trying to work through issues:
Europe clearly took a backseat this week to the Fed’s potential monetary easing announcement, but the European Central Bank (ECB) is readying for an ECB Governing Council meeting next week. James Reid of Deutsche Bank said, “For now, Europe is in a holding pattern ahead of clarity surrounding the next move in the great ECB bond buying maneuverings, and the U.S. is in limbo ahead of Bernanke’s Jackson Hole appearance tomorrow. For the latter, speculation mounts that Bernanke won’t say anything overly new in his speech.” The eurozone is in a battle of its own, regardless of what the Fed decides. Spain is being sucked into the center of the eurozone debt crisis. Spanish consumers have pulled as much as 5 percent of their private sector deposits. The other side of this coin is that Greek banks are seeing a boost in their deposits since June elections. Private sector deposits are up about 2 percent. The World Gold Council is suggesting a creative way of looking at Gold in the eurozone. Many pundits have suggested that troubled eurozone countries sell Gold to take care of their debts. This ill advised idea sounds like a simple resolution, but of course it is more complicated than that. The World Gold Council has suggested bonds and loans backed by Gold. Some groups (LCH.Clearnet, Intercontinental Exchange, and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange) have begun accepting Gold as collateral for margin requirements recently. Gillian Tett of Financial Times wrote that this “suggest(s) that a slow evolution of attitudes is under way — not so much in terms of the desirability of Gold per se, but the increasing undesirability and riskiness of other supposedly ‘safe’ assets, such as government bonds.”
United States economy still giving mixed reports:
In the U.S.A., a trend of economic growth could be a reason the announcement of another round of easing by the Federal Reserve was not made today. One discussion is surrounding the small amount of growth and whether it is enough to sustain a positive direction moving forward. The United States’ gross domestic product (GDP) went up in the second quarter by 1.7 percent, which was 0.2 percent more than a previous estimate. The GDP is seen as a key indicator of the economy. While there was improvement, many believe it was at a level low enough to warrant more action by the Fed. The release of the weekly jobless claims report has had little effect on Gold and Silver. The four week moving average of new claims rose by 1,500, while the week to week change was flat. Personal consumer spending increased in July to a five month high, according to data from the Commerce Department. Falling gasoline prices coupled with moderate increases in income to provide consumers a bit more to spend this midsummer. Despite July’s increase, consumers have been cautious on spending for most of the year, with a decrease in June and a flat report in May. “In the first quarter of the year, Americans saved less in order to spend more,” said Chris Christopher, senior economist at IHS Global Insight. “In the second quarter, job prospects were not very promising, so Americans put more money aside and spent less.”
U.S. stock futures and Precious Metals are enjoying a boost this morning in anticipation of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s speech at Jackson Hole, Wyo., set to begin at 10 a.m. (EDT). Many investors are expecting Bernanke to strongly hint about a new round of quantitative easing, if not deliver an outright announcement. Peter Cardillo of Rockwell Global Capital said, “Obviously the market has discounted the fact Mr. Bernanke is not going to announce (a third round of quantitative easing), but he will acknowledge the fact there is a growing possibility that it could happen, so I think that’s what the market is looking at.”
The World Gold Council is suggesting a creative way of looking at Gold in the eurozone. Many pundits have suggested that troubled eurozone countries sell Gold to take care of their debts. This ill advised idea sounds like a simple resolution, but of course it is more complicated than that. The World Gold Council has suggested bonds and loans backed by Gold. Some groups (LCH.Clearnet, Intercontinental Exchange, and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange) have begun accepting Gold as collateral for margin requirements recently. Gillian Tett of Financial Times wrote that this “suggest(s) that a slow evolution of attitudes is under way — not so much in terms of the desirability of Gold per se, but the increasing undesirability and riskiness of other supposedly ‘safe’ assets, such as government bonds.”
At 9 a.m. (EDT), the APMEX Precious Metals spot prices were:
- Gold, 1,662.90, Up $7.30.
- Silver, $30.79, Up $0.34.
- Platinum, $1,519.20, Up $14.50.
- Palladium, $625.80, Up $625.80.
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The primary topic of discussion today will be the release of the minutes from last week’s Federal Reserve meeting. Ahead of that announcement, speculation will abound. Some investors will want more quantitative easing, while others will want more of what we have been getting: inaction. Speaking on CNBC, Art Cashin, director of floor operations at USB, said, “You’re going to need a translator for these minutes.”
The Gold price hit a three month high in overnight trading, going as high as $1,645. Since 2009, central banks have been net buyers of Gold, regardless of the spot price. According to the World Gold Council, central banks bought 158 tons in the June quarter. The ever present eurozone crisis and never improving American financial situation has presented central banks across the globe with a situation in which the yellow metal is the perfect safe haven for their currency reserves.
At 9:09 a.m. (EDT), the APMEX Precious Metals spot prices were:
- Gold, $1,640.40, Down $1.00.
- Silver, $29.48, Down $0.06.
- Platinum, $1,522.00, Up $13.20.
- Palladium, $631.50, Up $5.80.
American stock futures are pointing to a lower start, and were pushed even lower after a report showed that retail sales fell in May. Jim Reid of Deutsche Bank said, “In reality, price action is likely to remain unpredictable as we move towards this weekend as position squaring will likely dominate ahead of the Greek election this Sunday.” The focus is squarely back on Greece in the eurozone, as the latest election could make-or-break the repeated bailout attempts for the troubled country. Gold recovered from early losses after the retail sales report.
Since 2008, over $6 trillion has been printed as part of money-printing or quantitative easing programs by the central banks of the world. Further quantitative easing is on all of the “Big Four” (Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, Bank of England, Bank of Japan) central banks’ agendas in the near future. Many investors assume that further easing is sure to happen, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Gary Baker.
The central banks seem to know a way to offset the inflation created by money printing, however. According to the World Gold Council, Gold makes up more than 70% of the reserves of countries like the U.S.A., Germany, Italy, and France. Kazakhstan is the latest to significantly increase its holdings in the metal, and by the end of the year expects to have holdings up to 20%. The country has purchased 16.2 tons of Gold through April of this year, and expects that number to be 24.5 tons in the second half of the year.
At 9 a.m. (EDT), the APMEX Precious Metals spot prices were:
- Gold – $1,622.50 – Up $8.70.
- Silver – $29.02 – Down $0.03.
- Platinum – $1,462.30 – Up $5.90.
- Palladium – $625.10 – Up $0.90.
by John Foster. Email John.
Concerns out of the Euro zone continued to pull down the euro and strengthen the American dollar this week, thus pulling down prices. Gold in particular has remained relatively fluid within a certain price range of $1,530 to $1,590. However a key price indicator in the short term continues to be $1,600 an ounce. However, euro pressure continues to be in the driver’s seat for prices. An unidentified international dealer said, “If we break above $1,600 and even go higher to confirm the bull trend, we will see more buying.” Gold’s price drop has been well documented during the past few weeks. Many factors have led to the shift in price. However, in the view of many investors, this is an opportunity, based on a closer look at the numbers. CNBC contributor Dennis Gartman said, “The public is massively bearish, and that tells me it’s time to be bullish.” He added, “Most people don’t think Gold and stocks can go higher together, but I expect to see them trade dramatically higher over the course of the next several months. The trend is now higher.” Prices of Precious Metals were boosted by news of purchases from the biggest of spenders. Central banks in Turkey, Ukraine, Mexico, and Kazakhstan increased their Gold holdings in April, according to the International Monetary Fund. Commerzbank AG said, “We regard the central banks as a stabilizing element on the Gold market and anticipate increasing buying of Gold.” Lachlan Shaw of Commonwealth Bank of Australia said that early signs of an American recovery, a slowdown in Chinese growth, question marks over United States monetary policy and a sovereign debt crisis brewing in Europe are all keeping the market in a wait and see mode. “Any of these four catalysts can drive prices and investment demand,” he said.
U.S Slow but Steady?:
The United States might experience slower economic growth than previously expected with the end of extended benefits for the unemployed. This might influence some job seekers to accept jobs they otherwise would prefer not to, or give up searching for a job and drop out of the labor force. Andrew Tilton at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is optimistic about the end of the extended benefits program. He said, “There has been an improvement in the availability of jobs. In a better labor market, people losing their benefits would be more likely to look and to find a job, and less likely to simply drop out. However, consumer sentiment in the United States rose to its highest point in more than four years in May. Optimism in the air as a healthier economy is beginning to develop. Richard Curtin, head of the University of Michigan’s consumer survey, reflected on how long the consumer sentiment will remain positive. He said, “The most likely prospect is that job growth resumes at a modest pace and that confidence remains largely unchanged until after the November election and decisions about tax policy are made.” Despite the upheaval in Europe, the United States’ economy continues to push forward. There is concern the debt problems in Europe and China could affect American factory data soon, with the Purchasing Managers Index slowing from 56.0 in April to 53.9 this month. Paul Edelstein said, “We are growing at moderate pace of two to two-and-a-quarter percent, but we have some headwinds that are starting to assert themselves, particularly coming from Europe.” Continue reading