Gold Records 5.7% Annual Gain, Still No Deal on Fiscal Cliff

Wholesale gold bullion prices touched their highest level since Christmas at $1669 an ounce during Monday morning’s London session, before easing slightly towards lunchtime to record a 5.7% gain for 2012 at the final gold fix of the year.

Silver failed to hold gains from Asian trading, falling back towards $30 an ounce.

Major European stock markets ticked lower this morning following news that no deal has been done in Washington to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. An exception was France’s CAC 40 Index, which rose following news of a setback to the French government’s plans to raise taxes on the wealthy.

Oil prices edged lower meantime, falling for the third day in a row, amid concerns the US economy is about to see automatic tax rises and cuts in government spending which could threaten a new recession.

“[The Republicans] say that their biggest priority is making sure that we deal with the deficit in a serious way,” President Obama told Sunday’s edition of NBC’s Meet the Press.

“But the way they’re behaving is that their only priority is making sure that tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are protected.”

“Americans elected President Obama to lead, not cast blame,” countered John Boehner, Republican speaker of the House of Representatives.

“The president’s comments are ironic, as a recurring theme of our negotiations was his unwillingness to agree to anything that would require him to stand up to his own party.”

If the two sides fail to agree a deal by tomorrow on how to tackle the budget deficit, automatic tax rises and spending cuts worth around $600 billion will come into effect.

“Some investors are looking through this in the hope that politicians can find a middle ground that will allow the increasing momentum in the economy not to be impeded,” says Tim Schroeders, who helps manage $1 billion at Pengana Capital in Melbourne.

“It’s disappointing that politics has got in the way to such an extent, with investors becoming increasingly nervous that this will drag on into the new year.”

“Gold and silver will…find near-term support amid ebbing haven demand for the US Dollar,” says a note from analysts at Swiss refiner MKS.

“But one should be cautious when an agreement is reached,” they add, noting that this could be followed by “a sharp downtick”.

Over in Europe, the French government will press ahead with plans to introduce a 75% tax rate for the wealthy, the country’s finance minister has said, despite France’s constitutional council ruling against the measures on Saturday.

“We are in a period of crisis…it is logical that the wealthiest should make a contribution at this time,” Pierre Moscovici told the Financial Times, adding that the council’s ruling was technical rather than fundamental.

Manufacturing growth in China meantime accelerated in December, according to HSBC’s purchasing manager’s index, which hit its highest level since April 2011 this month (a figure above 50 indicates increased sector activity during the month).

The final London gold fix of 2012 on Monday morning was $1664 an ounce – an annual gain of 5.7%.

Gold in Euros traded at €1261.56 an ounce at the time of the fix – up 3.7% on the year – while gold in Sterling ended the year up 0.9% at £1029.32 an ounce.

Ben Traynor | BullionVault

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