247Bull.com Editor: For the time being market participants seem to believe that all is well with the world and that our problems are behind us. Much of this is being fuelled by massive money printing and ultra-low interest rates. Ultra-low rates have substantially reduced monthly mortgage payments, allowing people to spend money elsewhere. As a result low rates have provided significant economic stimulus and provided a safety net for struggling borrowers. Over the long-term however, interest rates that are below the level of inflation (as they are in the UK and US today), are hugely destructive. They gradually destroy a nation’s savings and thus it’s stock of future investment capital, something which hampers the economic recovery and prolongs the recessionary environment.
The U.S. dollar gold price extended its losses from last week Monday, dipping to a near-three-week low below $1655 per ounce during London’s morning trading, as stock markets ticked higher, with the FTSE 100 hitting its highest level since May 2008.
The S&P 500 meantime climbed above 1500 last week for the first time since December 2007.
Silver this morning dropped below $31 an ounce to hit a two-week low, while other commodities were broadly flat and US Treasuries gained.
Last week saw spot gold fall 1.5%, while silver was down 2.1%.
“It seems that a number of safe haven refuges like gold, the Japanese Yen, US Treasury bonds, and the Swiss Franc have all been under pressure lately,” says Ed Meir, metals analyst at brokerage INTL FCStone.
“Investors [are becoming] more comfortable parking their capital in riskier asset classes like the Euro and equity markets.”
The Swiss Franc is still “too strong”, Switzerland’s economy minister Johann Schneider-Ammann said Saturday, adding that he “hopes it will devalue further”.
“The Franc is still very strong,” Swiss finance minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf told reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos the same day.
In September 2011, the Swiss National Bank announced a peg of SFr1.20 to the Euro in September 2011, following several years of Franc appreciation. The Swiss currency has weakened in recent weeks against the Euro, trading above SFr1.24 this morning, as the Euro has strengthened on the currency markets.
On Friday, SNB chairman Thomas Jordan told Davos he expects further weakening of the Franc.
A campaign to force a referendum on Switzerland repatriating all its foreign-vaulted gold bullion and increasing its gold reserves is nearing its target of 100,000 signatures.
Britain’s chancellor George Osborne would prefer to see the bank of England continue with its current inflation target policy framework rather than shift to targeting a nominal level of economic output, according to a report in the Financial Times Monday.
In a speech last month, Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney, who takes over at the Bank of England this summer, suggested a role for so-called nominal GDP targeting. When he spoke in Davos on Saturday however Carney “went out of his way not to mention nominal GDP”, the FT reports, but instead praised “flexible inflation targeting”.
Since the start of this month, Sterling has depreciated 4% against the Dollar and more than 5.5% against the Euro, which climbed to a 14-month high against the Pound this morning.
The gold price in Sterling meantime is up more than 2% from where it started January, while the Dollar gold price is flat on the month and gold in Euros is down 3%.
The so-called speculative net long position in Comex gold futures and options – calculated as the difference between ‘bullish’ long and ‘bearish’ short contracts held by noncommercial traders – ticked higher in the week ended last Tuesday, weekly data published Friday by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission show.
The world’s biggest gold exchange traded fund meantime continued to see outflows of bullion held to back its shares on Friday. The volume of gold held by SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) fell by nearly two tonnes from a day earlier to 1329.9 tonnes, its lowest level since the start of October.
The world’s largest silver ETF also continued to see outflows, with the volume of silver held by iShares Silver Trust (SLV) falling to 10,468.8 tonnes Friday – though this was still more than 300 tonnes above where it was 10 days previously following strong inflows.
“For the first time in eight weeks, ETFs‘ commitment to silver has wavered,” says Standard Bank commodities strategist Marc Ground.
Kazakhstan and Russia both added to their gold reserves last month, International Monetary Fund figures show. Kazakhstan’s reserves rose 1.7% to 115.3 tonnes, the figures show, while Russia grew by 2.1% to 957.8 tonnes.
Russia’s central bank intends to continue buying gold, its first deputy chairman Alexei Ulyukayev said earlier this month, although he denied there is a target for gold to make up 10% of reserves.
Despite a flurry of new regulations to control “speculation” in Vietnam’s gold market, unlicensed trading of bullion continues, according to local press reports.
Some dealers and consumers have switched to trading rings and other jewelry pieces instead of gold bullion bars. This weekend, the State Bank said it will become the sole point for import and export of gold.
Ben Traynor | BullionVault