Prices quoted for buying
gold fell together
with the US dollar on Thursday morning in London, dropping away from $1,660
per ounce and falling harder in other currencies as commodities also edged
prices slipped back to $31.50 per ounce, some 1.1% lower for
the week so far.
The euro rose almost 1¢ to a 1-week high of $1.3170, pushing the
price for euro-zone investors buying gold down 1.2% from Tuesday's late one-month high of
€1271 per ounce (€40,868 per kilo).
"Gold is struggling, weighed down by...faltering investor
interest," says today's note from South Africa's Standard Bank.
"Physical demand on the other hand has been supportive, with
particularly strong buying coming out of the Far East on price dips."
A late rally in Asian shares – attributed by the newswires to
rumors that Hong Kong banks will be allowed to lend directly to Chinese
manufacturers in the Shenzen Special Economic Zone
– failed to carry over into European trade.
London-listed oil majors fell hard after reports of a leak near Shell
platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.
Italy meantime sold nearly €5 billion in new government debt, but
investors demanded more than 5.0% annual interest on Rome's new 10-year
bonds, plus 3.9% on 3-year debt – a full percent point higher from the
previous auction in mid-March.
Two days after the International Monetary Fund said it was cutting its
long-term forecast for China's trade surplus – "the analytical
underpinning for the case that the renminbi is
substantially undervalued" according to former IMF official Eswar Prasad – the World Bank today trimmed its
forecast for China's GDP growth in 2012.
Down from 8.4% to 8.2%, that would be the slowest pace in 13 years.
China's trade surplus almost halved in 2011 to 2.7%.
China's private gold
buying in 2011 accounted for more than 0.6% of GDP
on Bullion Vault's analysis, with imports accounting for over half of that.
"Gold [in 2011] was clearly dependent on emerging markets' economic
strength, as China's jewelry demand grew to a record level while India's fell
by less than 3%," said GFMS executive
chairman Philip Klapwijk on Wednesday, launching
the consultancy's new Gold Survey
Rising incomes in both China and India mean "We see significant
potential for new entrants" to the gold market, said Klapwijk,
with banks expanding access to physical product in-branch, and private-sector
operators also expanding "distribution to retail investors."
The Singapore Mercantile Exchange today said it will launch new silver
and gold futures contracts
in May, "providing an alternate [Asian] market because China and India
are closed" to cross-border flows according to SMX chief executive Vaidyalingam Hariharan,
speaking to Reuters.
Data out Thursday morning put new Chinese bank lending sharply above
analyst forecasts in March at CNY 1.01 billion ($160bn).
Growth in private-sector bank account holdings also accelerated, growing
by 13.4% from a year earlier, suggesting that "Chinese monetary easing
looks to have already taken place," says Standard Bank's commodity note.
"The latest Chinese foreign exchange reserves data [also] showed a
much stronger-than-expected increase in March.
"Reserve accumulation and continued low real interest rates
underscores our long-term bullish outlook for gold."
Ahead of US trade and producer-price data on Thursday, Australia reported
a sharp jump in consumer expectations for inflation to 3.3%, while
unemployment held flat at 5.2% last month.
The UK trade deficit yawned to £8.7 billion in February, while
Eurozone industrial production contracted as analysts forecast, down 1.8%
from Feb. 2011.
"I consider a highly accommodative policy stance to be appropriate
in present circumstances," said Janet Yellen,
vice-chair of the US Federal Reserve Board of Governors, in a speech on
"But...further easing actions could be warranted if the recovery
proceeds at a slower-than-expected pace," said Yellen
– the Fed's #2 to chairman Ben Bernanke – adding that only
"a significant acceleration in the pace of recovery" would bring
forward any tightening of current policy.
The Bank of Japan "must not waver" but expand its balance sheet
"aggressively" to fight deflation, says Frederic Neumann, co-head
of HSBC bank's Asian economics team, writing in the Financial
To avoid a "lost decade", Europe should meantime set up a
Special Purpose Vehicle, separate from the individual member states, to hold
Eurozone government debt bought with €2-3 trillion created through the
European Central Bank says financier and hedge-fund manager George Soros,
also writing in the Financial Times today.
"In the long run," said GFMS chairman Klapwijk
at Wednesday's event in London's Canary Wharf, "the current level of gold
investment demand is
not sustainable. But it can be sustained [in the meantime] by central-bank
"Negative real rates of interest and quantitative easing can only be
good for gold," he explained, forecasting a continuation of US and UK
policy in 2012, plus further relaxation in Europe.
Whether in North America, Europe or emerging Asia, people are buying
gold "as a form
of protection against debt monetization and inflation," he said.