Oct 31

Tea Leaves & $2000 Gold

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Yes, some people are still forecasting $2000 gold by year’s end…
 

BOB and BARB Moriarty launched 321gold.com over 10 years ago, adding 321energy.com the better to cover oil, natural gas, gasoline, coal, solar, wind and nuclear energy as well as precious metals.
 
Previously a US Marine fighter pilot, and holding 14 international aviation records, Bob Moriarty here tells The Gold Report why he’s 100% certain that a market crash is looming… 
 
The Gold Report: Bob, in our last interview in February, we had currency devaluation in Argentina and Venezuela, interest rate hikes in Turkey and South America, and a cotton and federal bond-buying program. Just eight months later in October, we’ve got Ebola, ISIS and Russia annexing Crimea plus a rising US Dollar Index. We’ve also got pullbacks in gold, silver and pretty much all commodity prices. With all this news, what, in your view, should people really be focusing in on?
 
Bob Moriarty: There is a flock of black swans overhead, any one of which could be catastrophic. The fundamental problems with the world’s debt crisis and banking crisis have never been solved. The fundamental issues with the Euro have never been solved. The world is a lot closer to the edge of the cliff today than it was back in February.
 
About ISIS, I think I was six years old when my parents pointed out a hornet’s nest. They said, “Whatever you do, don’t swat the hornets’ nest.” Of course, being six years old, I took stick and went up there and swatted the hornets’ nest, which really pissed off the hornets. I learned my lesson.
 
We swatted the hornets’ nest when we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. What we did is we empowered every religious fruitcake in the world. We said, “Okay, here’s your gun, go shoot somebody. We’ll plant flowers.” We are reaping what we sowed. What we need to do is leave them to their own devices and let them figure out what they want to do. It’s our presence in the Middle East that is creating a problem.
 
TGR: Will stepping back allow the Middle East to heal itself, or will there be continued civil wars that threaten the world?
 
Bob Moriarty: We are the catalyst in the Middle East. We have been the catalyst under the theory that we are the world’s policemen and that we’re better and smarter than everybody else and rich enough to afford to fight war after war. None of those beliefs are true. The idea that America is exceptional is hogwash. We’re not smarter. We’re not better. We’re certainly not effective policemen.
 
The Congress of the United States has been bought and paid for by special interest groups: part of it is Wall Street, part of it is the banks and part of it is Israel. We’re just trying to do things that we can’t do. What the US needs to do is mind its own business.
 
TGR: You’ve commented recently that you’re expecting a stock market crash soon. Can you elaborate on that?
 
Bob Moriarty: We have two giant elephants in the room fighting it out. One is the inflation elephant and one is the deflation elephant. The deflation elephant is the $710 trillion worth of derivatives, which is $100,000 per man, woman and child on earth. Those derivatives have to blow up and crash. That’s going to be deflationary.
 
At the same time, we’ve got the world awash in debt, more debt than we’ve ever had in history, and it’s been inflationary in terms of energy and the stock market. When the stock and bond markets implode, as we know they’re going to, we’re going to see some really scary things. We’ll go to quantitative easing infinity, and we’re going to see the price of gold go through the roof. It’s going to go to the moon when everything else crashes.
 
TGR: How are you looking at the crash – short term, before the end of this year? How imminent are we?
 
Bob Moriarty: Soon. But I’m in the market. Not in the general market, but I’m in resources. There’s a triangle of value created by a guy named John Exter: Exter’s Pyramid. It’s an inverted pyramid. At the top there are derivatives, and then there are miscellaneous assets going down: securitized debt and stocks, broad currency and physical notes. At the very bottom – the single most valuable asset at the end of time – is gold. When the derivatives, bonds, currencies and stock markets crash, the last man standing is going to be gold.
 
TGR: So the last man standing is the actual commodity, not the stocks?
 
Bob Moriarty: Not necessarily. The stocks represent fractional ownership of a real commodity. There are some really wonderful companies out there with wonderful assets that are selling for peanuts.
 
TGR: In one of your recent articles, “Black Swans and Brown Snakes“, you were tracking the US Dollar Index as it climbed 12 weeks in a row, and you discussed the influence of the Yen, the Euro, the British Pound. Can you explain the US Dollar Index and the impact it has on silver and gold?
 
Bob Moriarty: First of all, when people talk about the US Dollar Index, they think it has something to do with the Dollar and it does not. It is made up of the Euro, the Yen, the Mexican Peso, the British Pound and some other currencies. When the Euro goes down, the Dollar Index goes up. When the Yen goes down, the Dollar Index goes up. The Dollar, as measured by the Dollar Index, got way too expensive. It was up 12 weeks in a row. On Oct. 3, it was up 1.33% in one day, and that’s a blow-off top. It’s very obvious in hindsight. I took a look at the charts for silver and gold – if you took a mirror to the Dollar Index, you saw the charts for silver and gold inversely. When people talk about gold going down and silver going down, that’s not true. The Euro went down. The Yen went down. The Pound went down and the value of gold and silver didn’t change. It only changed in reference to the US Dollar. In every currency except the Dollar, gold and silver haven’t changed in value at all since July.
 
The US Dollar Index got irrationally exuberant, and it’s due for a crash. When it crashes, it’s going to take the stock market with it and perhaps the bond market. If you see QE increase, head for your bunker.
 
TGR: Should I conclude that gold and silver will escalate?
 
Bob Moriarty: Yes. There was an enormous flow of money from China, Japan, England, Europe in general into the stock and bond markets. What happened from July was the equivalent of the water flowing out before a tsunami hits. It’s not the water coming in that signals a tsunami, it’s the water going out. Nobody paid attention because everybody was looking at it in terms of silver or gold or platinum or oil, and they were not looking at the big picture. You’ve got to look at the big picture. A financial crash is coming. I’m not going to beat around the bush. I’m not saying there’s a 99% chance. There’s a 100% chance.
 
TGR: Why does it have to crash? Why can’t it just correct?
 
Bob Moriarty: Because the world’s financial system is in such disequilibrium that it can’t gradually go down. It has to crash. The term for it in physics is called entropy. When you spin a top, at first it is very smooth and regular. As it slows down, it becomes more and more unstable and eventually it simply crashes. The financial system is doing the same thing. It’s becoming more and more unstable every day.
 
TGR: You spoke at the Cambridge House International 2014 Silver Summit Oct. 23-24. Bo Polny also spoke. He predicts that gold will be the greatest trade in history. He’s calling for $2000 per ounce gold before the end of this year. We’re moving into the third seven-year cycle of a 21-year bull cycle. Do you agree with him?
 
Bob Moriarty: I’ve seen several interviews with Bo. The only problem with his cycles theory is you can’t logically or factually see his argument. Now if you look at my comments about silver, gold and the stock market, factually we know the US Dollar Index went up 12 weeks in a row. That’s not an opinion; that’s a fact. I’m using both facts and logic to make a point.
 
When a person walks in and says, okay, my tea leaves say that gold is going to be $2000 by the end of the year, you are forced to either believe or disbelieve him based on voodoo. I don’t predict price; I don’t know anybody who can. If Bo actually can, he’s going to be very popular and very rich.
 
TGR: Many people have predicted a significant crash for a number of years. How do you even begin to time this thing? A lot of people who have been speculating on this have lost money.
 
Bob Moriarty: That’s a really good point. People have been betting against the Yen for years. That’s been one of the most expensive things you can bet against. Likewise, people have been betting on gold and silver and they’ve lost a lot of money. I haven’t made the money that I wish I’d made over the last three years, but I’ve taken a fairly conservative approach and I don’t think I’m in bad shape.
 
TGR: Describe your conservative approach.
 
Bob Moriarty: The way to make money in any market is to buy when things are cheap and sell when they’re dear. It’s as simple as that. Markets go up and markets go down. There is no magic to anything.
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Oct 28

"Peak Gold" Here to Stay

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But that won’t deflect a possible dip to $1000 per ounce first, says this leading German newsletter analyst…
 

OLIVER GROSS is a passionate resource expert, prudent investor and adviser with more than 10 years of experience in the mining and junior sector.
 
Chief editor and analyst of the newsletter Der Rohstoff-Anleger – which is published by Germany’s online GeVestor Financial groupm, and specializes in the global junior resource sector – Gross here tells The Gold Report why gold prices could get washed down to $1000 per ounce before the fundamental fact of “peak gold” drives a new bull market…
 
The Gold Report: Earlier this month, the broader equities markets suffered huge losses as gold made significant gains. Then, after the broader markets recovered, gold fell. Is there now an inverse relationship between the health of the broader markets and the price of gold?
 
Oliver Gross: This kind of inverse relationship between gold and the broader equity markets isn’t really new. It has been observed since fall 2011, when the price of gold peaked. Since then, gold has fallen more than 35%, while the S&P 500 has risen 70%.
 
The current situation resembles the early 2000s, when the broader equity markets were in the final phase of the dot-com bubble, while gold traded as low as $340 per ounce ($340 per ounce). Then, of course, the broader equities markets collapsed, while gold rose above $1900 per ounce.
 
TGR: Some analysts believe that the broader equities market is dangerously overvalued. To give one example, Netflix was recently trading at 144 times earnings. What do you think?
 
Oliver Gross: After a 5-year bull run leading to new all-time highs in the broader equity markets, there are many signs of bubble formations in the Internet, high-tech and biotechnology sectors. Again, this feels like the early 2000s. The extremely high price-to-earnings ratios in stocks such as Netflix indicate investor euphoria and huge amounts of speculative capital provided by the central banks.
 
It is shocking to compare valuations in the broader sectors of the equity markets to valuations in the precious metals space. 
 
TGR: How should investors react to this bubble?
 
Oliver Gross: Speaking for myself, as one who follows an anticyclical strategy, I like to invest when there is blood in the streets, and that is certainly what is happening with precious metal equities. Today, investors can buy gold and silver stocks at decade-low valuations and historically low bullion-to-equity valuations.
 
Nobody cares about precious metals equities today, but when the bubble in the broader markets bursts, we will see a massive shift in market sentiment and in the behavior of investors. That said, investors must stick to best-in-class stories and must demonstrate constancy and patience.
 
TGR: Could the collapse of the bubble lead to a crisis similar to that which occurred in 2007-2008?
 
Oliver Gross: Yes, the possibility of another Lehman Brothers event is there. When the largest and most influential players in the financial industry want to exit this market, we could see a 2008-like selloff very, very fast. I also think that it is only a matter of time before a further big player in our financial industry will go the same way as Lehman.
 
TGR: Geopolitical turmoil today is greater now than it has been for quite some time: Gaza, ISIS, Ukraine and now Ebola. Traditionally, this would have resulted in a significantly higher gold price, which has not happened. Is what we have seen this year an anomaly, or is the price of gold no longer affected by external events?
 
Oliver Gross: That is a question not easily answered. Traditionally, gold has been regarded as the ultimate crisis protection, so geopolitical turmoil usually resulted in a higher gold price. What has changed is the incredible power of the central banks. They have changed the rules of the game. This is a major financial experiment with no historical precedent. The combination of unlimited liquidity, historically low interest rates and historically high debt levels has, for the moment, mitigated geopolitical risk factors and guaranteed faith in the US Dollar as the world’s reserve currency.
 
Gold has fought incredible odds since fall 2011. It is the most hated asset class, the official enemy of the US Dollar reserve and our global monetary system. And so the biggest financial institutions have no interest in higher gold prices. They still control the gold futures and the paper-gold market, so it is easy for them to attack the gold price. But this can’t continue forever, and it’s just a matter of time before all the money created since 2008 will no longer simply inflate asset bubbles. Inflation will return, and gold will again respond positively to external crises.
 
TGR: Where do you see gold and silver prices going in the short term?
 
Oliver Gross: I see a 50% chance of a final panic selloff across the gold and silver space. In this scenario, gold could fall to $1000 per ounce, and silver could fall as low as $12 per ounce.
 
TGR: Wouldn’t such prices lead to widespread curtailment of bullion production?
 
Oliver Gross: The current all-in costs of gold producers are now above $1150 per ounce, even after massive cost reductions and a focus on higher-grade mining. Such expedients can have only a temporary effect. At a gold price of $1000 per ounce, there will be many shutdowns.
 
We need a gold price of at least $1400 per ounce to support sustainable production, and that number will rise, as early as 2015 or 2016. We have reached Peak Gold, and it’s here to stay. The highest-grade and most-profitable deposits are gone. The bear market in the gold mining space has been so long and painful that the major producers have their backs to the wall. 
Most discoveries of the last five years need a far higher gold price to be mined. In addition, many recent discoveries are located in jurisdictions with high country or environmental risks and lack infrastructure, resulting in multibillion-Dollar capital expenditures (capexes).
 
TGR: As a result of the factors you’ve mentioned, can we now expect a big increase in mergers and acquisitions (M&As)?
 
Oliver Gross: Not so much among the majors. Most of them have weak balance sheets and too many in-house projects to risk expensive and dilutive takeovers. 
 
TGR: What are the attributes possessed by those companies likely to be taken out?
 
Oliver Gross: When the influential players in the gold mining space think that the gold price bottom is in, and a new bull market is likely, M&A interest will grow big time. Such a consolidation could create a perfect storm for the strongest junior gold producers and quality gold developers with robust, competitive projects.
 
Specifically, takeover targets will have financeable mine capexes with a good relation to the discounted net present value (NPV) of their projects. They will be profitable with gold at $1100 per ounce, and at least break even at $1000 per ounce. Their projects will be in pro-mining jurisdictions with stable laws, the sustainable support of regional and local communities, and solid infrastructure.
 
TGR: What about management?
 
Oliver Gross: Takeover targets must have managements with strong track records, or, failing that, existing investment from the larger precious metals companies or previously successful strategic investors. And, of course, healthy financials. There are many evaluations to be made, and there aren’t any “no brainers” here. Due diligence and continuous research are critical. When you think you haven’t spotted any weaknesses, you’ve likely missed something.
 
TGR: You are now more bullish on uranium companies, correct?
 
Oliver Gross: Uranium prices have just enjoyed their first recovery in years. We may have seen the bottom here, so I think investors should put uranium stocks back on their watchlists. 
 
TGR: Finally, given that so many current investors in gold companies want out, does the M&A flurry you’ve suggested offer a special opportunity for contrarians?
 
Oliver Gross: Absolutely. Both specific and general valuations are among the lowest for the last 30 years, so this could be the most attractive environment for contrarian investors in a couple of generations.
 
TGR: Oliver, thank you for your time and your insights.
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Oct 23

US Oil & Global Gold

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US oil stocks have soared as shale pushes crude prices down. But gold…?
 

The UNITED STATES is doing better than it has in years, writes Frank Holmes on his Frank Talk blog at US Global Investors.
 
Jobs growth is up, unemployment is down, our manufacturing sector carries the rest of the world on its shoulders like a wounded soldier and the World Economic Forum named the US the third-most competitive nation, our highest ranking since before the recession.
 
As heretical as it sounds, there’s a downside to America’s success, and that’s a stronger Dollar. Although our currency has softened recently, it has put pressure on two commodities that we consider our lifeblood at US Global Investors: gold and oil.
 
It’s worth noting that we’ve been here before. In October 2011, a similar correction occurred in energy, commodities and resources stocks based on European and Chinese growth fears. 
 
But international economic stimulus measures helped raise market confidence, and many of the companies we now own within these sectors benefited. Between October 2011 and January 2012, Anadarko Petroleum rose 58%; Canadian Natural Resources, 20%; Devon Energy, 15%; Cimarex Energy, 15%; Peyto Exploration & Development, 15%; and Suncor Energy, 10%.
 
Granted, we face new challenges this year that have caused market jitters – Ebola and ISIS, just to name a couple. But we’re confident that once the Dollar begins to revert back to the mean, a rally in energy and resources stocks might soon follow. Brian Hicks, portfolio manager of our Global Resources Fund (PSPFX), notes that he’s been nibbling on cheap stocks ahead of a potential rally, one that, he hopes, mimics what we saw in late 2011 and early 2012.
 
A repeat of last year’s abnormally frigid winter, though unpleasant, might help heat up some of the sectors and companies that have underperformed lately.
 
On the left side of the chart below, you can see 45 years’ worth of data that show fairly subdued fluctuations in gold prices in relation to the Dollar. On the right side, by contrast, you can see that the strong Dollar pushed bullion prices down 6% in September, historically gold’s strongest month. This move is unusual also because gold has had a monthly standard deviation of ±5.5% based on the last 10 years’ worth of data.
 
 
Here’s another way of looking at it. On October 3, bullion fell below $1200 to prices we haven’t seen since 2010, but they quickly rebounded to the $1240 range as the Dollar index receded from its peak the same day.
 
 
There’s no need to worry just yet. This isn’t 2013, when the metal gave back 28%. And despite the correction, would it surprise you to learn that gold has actually outperformed several of the major stock indices this year?
 
 
As for gold stocks, there’s no denying the facts: With few exceptions, they’ve been taken to the woodshed. September was demonstrably cruel. Based on the last five years’ worth of data, the NYSE Arca Gold BUGS Index has had a monthly standard deviation of ±9.4, but last month it plunged 20%. We haven’t seen such a one-month dip since April 2013. This volatility exemplifies why we always advocate for no more than a 10% combined allocation to gold and gold stocks in investor portfolios.
 
Oil’s slump is a little more complicated to explain.
 
Since the end of World War II, black gold has been priced in US greenbacks. This means that when our currency fluctuates as dramatically as it has recently, it affects every other nation’s consumption of crude. Oil, then, has become much more expensive lately for the slowing European and Asian markets. Weaker purchasing power equals less overseas oil demand equals even lower prices.
 
What some people are calling the American energy renaissance has also led to lower oil prices. Spurred by more efficient extraction techniques such as fracking, the US has been producing over 8.5 million barrels a day, the highest domestic production level since 1986. 
 
We’re awash in the stuff, with supply outpacing demand. Whereas the rest of the world has flat-lined in terms of oil production, the US has zoomed to 30-year highs.
In a way, American shale oil has become a victim of its own success.
 
 
At the end of next month, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) are scheduled to meet in Vienna. As Brian speculated during our most recent webcast, it would be surprising if we didn’t see another production cut. With Brent oil for November delivery at $83 a barrel – a four-year low – many oil-rich countries, including Iran, Iraq and Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, will have a hard time balancing their books. Venezuela, in fact, has been clamoring for an emergency meeting ahead of November to make a plea for production cuts. 
 
 
Although not an OPEC member, Russia, once the world’s largest producer of crude, is being squeezed by plunging oil prices on the left, international sanctions on the right. This might prompt President Vladimir Putin to scale back the country’s presence in Ukraine and delay a multibillion-Dollar revamp of its armed forces. When the upgrade was approved in 2011, GDP growth was expected to hold at 6%. But now as a result of the sanctions and dropping oil prices, Russia faces a dismally flat 0.5%.
 
The current all-in sustaining cost to produce one ounce of gold is hovering between $1000 and $1200. With the price of bullion where it is, many miners can barely break even. Production has been down 10% because it’s become costlier to excavate. As I recently told Kitco News’ Daniela Cambone, we will probably start seeing supply shrinkage in North and South America and Africa.
 
The same could happen to oil production. Extraction of shale oil here in the US costs companies between $50 and $100 a barrel, with producers able to break even at around $80 to $85. If prices slide even further, drillers might be forced to trim their capital budgets or even shelve new projects.
 
Michael Levi of the Council on Foreign Relations told NPR’s Audie Cornish that a decrease in drilling could hurt certain commodities:
“[I]f prices fall far enough for long enough, you’ll see a pullback in drilling. And shale drilling uses a lot of manufactured goods – 20% of what people spend on a well is steel, 10% is cement, so less drilling means less manufacturing in those sectors.”
At the same time, Levi places oil prices in a long-term context, reminding listeners that we’ve become accustomed to unusually high prices for the last three years.
“People were starting to believe that this was permanent, and they were wrong,” he said. “So the big news is that volatility is back.”
On this note, be sure to visit our interactive and perennially popular Periodic Table of Commodities, which you can modify to view gold and oil’s performance going back ten years.
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Oct 23

An End to QE? A Good Man in Congress?

Gold Price Comments Off on An End to QE? A Good Man in Congress?
God knows what Ron Paul was ever doing in US politics…
 

OVER the weekend, we were down in Nashville at the Stansberry Conference Series event, along with Ron Paul, Porter Stansberry, Jim Rickards and others, writes Bill Bonner in his Diary of a Rogue Economist.
 
The question on the table: What’s ahead for the US?
 
Ron Paul took up the question from a geopolitical angle. He told the crowd that the military-security industry had Congress in its pocket.
 
As a result, we can expect more borrowing, more spending and more pointless and futile wars. They may be bad for the country and its citizens, says Paul, but they are good for the people who make fighter jets and combat fatigues.
 
“We’ve been at war in the Middle East for decades,” he said…
“We supported Osama bin Laden against the Soviets in Afghanistan…and the result of that was the creation of al-Qaeda.
 
“Then we supported Saddam Hussein against Iran. Saddam and bin Laden hated each other. But after 9/11 we attacked Saddam, using a bunch of lies to justify it. We sent over military equipment worth hundreds of billions of Dollars. This equipment is now in the hands of ISIS – another enemy we created…and a far more dangerous one.”
Ron Paul is such a pure-hearted soul. What was a man like him doing in Congress?
 
It must have been some sort of electoral accident. Good men rarely run for public office. And when they do, it is even rarer for them to win.
 
Poor Ron is retired from Congress now. And he spends his time trying to “get the word out.” He thinks that if people only realized what was happening they would vote for more responsible leaders and more sensible policies.
 
Alas, that’s not the way it works. The further the country goes in the wrong direction, the more people there are who have a financial interest in staying on the same road.
 
We visited Ron in his office on Capitol Hill. He held a breakfast meeting with a small group of congressmen, trying to convince them to vote his way; we don’t remember what was at issue.
 
It was an uphill battle. Only a few members of Congress attended. And those few worried that their districts would lose money…or that the labor unions wouldn’t like it if they voted no…or that they might not get a plum committee assignment if they bucked their own party leadership. Ron was alone.
 
Politics favors blowhards, hustlers and shallow opportunists, we concluded. Which makes us wonder how Ron Paul ever got elected to Congress in the first place.
 
But not only did he get elected…once in Washington, he never sold out. Neither to the right nor the left. He opposed zombies, malingerers and bullies wherever he found them.
 
Which brings us to the subject of our own presentation to the Nashville crowd. We were following the (QE) money. “St. Louis Fed president James Bullard let the cat out of the bag last week,” we explained.
 
As Bullard told Bloomberg TV last week:
“I also think that inflation expectations are dropping in the US. And that is something that a central bank cannot abide. We have to make sure that inflation and inflation expectations remain near our target.
 
“And for that reason I think a reasonable response of the Fed in this situation would be to invoke the clause on the taper that said that the taper was data dependent. And we could go on pause on the taper at this juncture and wait until we see how the data shakes out into December.
 
“So…continue with QE at a very low level as we have it right now. And then assess our options going forward.”
We didn’t think it would happen so fast. We thought the central bank would wait. We expected a little more hypocrisy…a bit more posturing…a little more phony resistance…a few denials…
 
…the Fed should have played it cool…coy…elusive…hard to pin down, making investors really sweat before coming to the rescue.
 
We knew where the Fed would end up…but we didn’t know it would go there so quickly and easily!
 
Bullard is admitting to a staggering act of vanity and hypocrisy. In the land of free minds and free markets, apparently only the Fed knows what prices equities should fetch.
 
Henceforth, it will approve all price movements on Wall Street.
 
To bring you fully into the picture, dear reader, the US central bank has the economy, and the markets, hooked on cheap credit and printing-press money. It has been supplying both on a grand scale for the last five years.
 
But it had promised to stay away from the playground, beginning this month. Now that the economy is recovering, goes the storyline, the Fed will back away from its emergency measures and allow things to return to normal.
 
QE ends this month. Higher interest rates are expected next year.
 
No bubble has ever been created that didn’t have a pin looking for it. And nobody likes it when the two meet up. Last week, it looked as though the Fed’s bubble and Mr. Market’s pin were coming closer. Then quick action by Bullard helped push them apart on Friday.
 
QE began in November 2008. And zero interest rates began a month later. This has perverted prices for stocks, bonds, houses…and just about every other asset price on the planet. Stocks are worth more than twice what they were at the bottom of the crisis. The average house is worth $60,000 more.
 
Now QE is ending. And that means a lot less money gushing into financial markets.
Instead of increasing at a 40% rate as it did in 2012, what Richard Duncan calls “excess liquidity” – the difference between what the Fed pumps out via QE and what the government absorbs via borrowing – will go up only 6% this year.
 
Next year, there will be even less.
 
With less new money coming from the Fed…and still no real recovery…something’s gotta give. No matter what Fed officials say. And since stocks periodically go down anyway, this seems like as good a time as any.
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Sep 15

Why Commodity Prices are Sinking

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Natural resources from oil to food are falling fast in price. Why…?
 

Is the POST-COLD WAR global boom over? asks Donald Coxe, chairman of Coxe Advisors LLC, and a consultant to The Casey Report from Doug Casey’s research group.
 
Since the fall of Bolshevism, the world has seen remarkably sustained growth in international cooperation, brought about by freer trade and new technologies. Financial assets have generally performed well, increasing prosperity across most of the world. There were just two major interruptions – the tech crash in 2000, and the financial crash in 2008.
 
The world warmed up fast after the Cold War. Prices of most commodities rose, despite major corrections:
  • Oil climbed from $15 per barrel to as high as $140. It collapsed with the crash, but climbed back swiftly to near $100;
  • Corn climbed from $2 to as high as $8 before sliding to $3.60;
  • Copper climbed from 80 cents to $4.30 before sliding to $3
  • Gold shot up from $350 to $1900 before pulling back toward $1200.
So what’s happening with commodity prices now? Is this just another correction, or has the game really changed?
 
Commodity prices have risen against a backdrop of falling interest rates:
The US 10-year Treasury yielded 8% as recently as 1994, and as low as 2.1% during the crash. Recently the consensus target was 4% – before fears of outright deflation drove it to 2.4%. Bond yields have fallen below 1%. Even the bonds of the southern members of the Eurozone yield Treasury-esque returns.
 
Remarkably, those low yields persist even as major geopolitical outbursts have ended the mostly benign post-Cold War era. The foundations of global economic progress are being shaken by geopolitical earthquakes from Russia and Ukraine to Syria and Iraq, where a new caliphate has been proclaimed.
 
It seems bizarre, but the world is heading toward a revival of both the Cold War and the Ottoman Empire.
 
Unfortunately, these concurrent crises are occurring at a time when the great democracies’ leaders bear scant resemblance to those leaders responsible for the end of the Cold War and the launch of global cooperation and free trade: Reagan, Thatcher, and George H.W.Bush.
 
Mr.Obama won his nomination by voting against the invasion of Iraq. He ran on the promise of ending wars, not starting them. Now, faced with sinking popularity in an election year that could give Republicans complete control of Congress, he naturally fears dragging America into the ISIS chaos – or Ukraine.
 
Obama is also haunted by the collapse of his most daring and creative foreign policy achievement – the reset with Russia. Mr.Putin has doubled down on his Ukrainian attacks by warning that Russia should be taken seriously, because it is a major nuclear power and is strengthening its nuclear arsenal. Those with long memories recall Khrushchev banging his shoe at the United Nations and shouting, “We will bury you!”
 
Meanwhile, Western Europe’s leaders show few signs of being prepared for either crisis. Angela Merkel, raised in East Germany, is cautious to a fault. British Premier David Cameron is struggling to prevent Scottish secession and to deal with the likely return of hundreds of ISIS-trained British citizens. (Military analysts generally agree that well-funded returnees with ISIS training are much greater threats than Al Qaeda ever was…yet Cameron has failed to convince his coalition partner to support restraining their re-entry into British Muslim communities.)
 
The backdrop for long-term investing has, in less than a year, swung from promising to promises broken by wars and threats of more-terrifying wars.
 
Another unlikely threat is deflation. When central bankers have been running the printing presses 24/7…?
 
Most economists, strategists, and investors would have deemed deflation a near-impossibility with government debts at all-time highs, funded by money printed at banana-republic rates. Who thought that the Fed would quadruple its balance sheet? And who dreamt that such drastic policies would be sustained for six years and would be accompanied by outright deflation in much of Europe and minimal inflation in the USA?
 
So why have Brent oil prices fallen from $125 in two years despite production outages in Syria and Libya and repeated cutbacks in Nigeria? Are Teslas taking over the world?
 
The answer is that the US is once again #1 in oil production, thanks to fracking (in states that allow it). Mr.Obama likes to boast about the new US oil boom, but he has been a bystander to this petro-revolution. According to an oil company executive interviewed in theNew York Times last week, without fracking, global oil prices might be at $200 a barrel, and the world would be in a deep recession. He’s a Texan and thus inclined toward hyperbole, but his point is directionally valid.
 
US frackers – deploying advances in science and technology with guts and skill – have averted fuel inflation. And farmers, using the tools of modern agriculture – GMO and hybridized seed, farm machinery equipped with GPS and logistics, and carefully monitored fertilizers – have combined with Mother Nature to unleash record crops of corn and soybeans. So much for food inflation.
 
Capitalism is doing its job: to expand output of goods and services, thereby preventing shortages from derailing recoveries through inflation. That success story means central bankers can keep printing away.
 
So what should investors do? The S&P’s rally has been sustained through near-zero-cost money used to:
  • buy back stock to enrich insiders and please activist hedge funds which have borrowed big to buy big; and
  • prop up the overall market because investors have learned that buying on margin when the costs are minimal – and below dividend yields – just keeps paying off.
Stein’s law says, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” Too bad it doesn’t say when.
 
Gold loses its luster when inflation seems to be as remote as a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It also loses appeal if even a concatenation of crises fails to send investors rushing into the time-tested crisis consoler.
 
We had predicted in February that 2014 would be the year of increasing geopolitical risks that would challenge conventional asset allocations. We see geopolitical risks expanding from here – not contracting – and stick to our investment advice that the broad stock market is precariously valued. A range of options is available for those who wish to hedge themselves against even worse news.
 
Gold is part of any such risk mitigation. So are long government bonds.
 
Most importantly, we have entered an era when wise investors will devote as much time to reading the foreign news as they allocate to reading the investment section.
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Sep 03

Conflict-Led Commodity Squeeze Ahead?

Gold Price Comments Off on Conflict-Led Commodity Squeeze Ahead?
Tumultuous times in Europe and the Middle East point to tight supply…
 

The GEOPOLITICAL EVENTS of summer 2014 may go down in history as a decisive turning point in world affairs, writes Amine Bouchentouf – partner at Parador Capital LLC, author of the best-selling Commodities For Dummies, and also founder of Commodities Investors LLC – at Hard Assets Investor.
 
Tensions across the Middle East and the European continent are reaching a high point and may soon reach a point of no return.
 
In this report, we examine the global macroeconomic scenario and what impact this will have on the performance of commodities. This will allow us to pick our investment spots as we move into the final quarter of the year.
 
A storm is brewing in Europe and the Middle East that could drag the world’s superpowers into regional conflicts that could escalate into a much broader war encompassing several countries across several continents. Let’s start in Europe.
 
The last time events similar to those in 2014 happened in Europe were right before the outbreak of World War II in the late 1930s. In the summer of 2014, Putin-led Russia annexed Crimea, a province that had been part of Ukraine for decades.
 
The annexation took most of the international community by surprise, as much by its speed as by its effectiveness. Almost overnight, Russian troops entered the Crimea, and Moscow declared it a part of the Russian Federation. The annexation was so swift and complete that a few months later, Vladimir Putin signed a law legalizing gambling in the Crimea.
 
The response from NATO countries was to issue warnings and targeted sanctions against Russian individuals and companies. Those sanctions seem to have done nothing; in fact, the situation has only deteriorated since then.
 
During the last week of August, Russia sent 1,000 Russian soldiers into Eastern Ukraine, well inside Ukraine’s international recognized borders. This 1,000-man army came in with tanks and antiaircraft and heavy artillery military equipment.
 
Furthermore, Russian-backed militants have been inside of Eastern Ukraine for some time now. These militants shot down a Malaysia Airlines civilian aircraft that was flying from the Netherlands to Malaysia, claiming more than 200 victims.
 
The response from NATO has been to increase sanctions which, in a previous column, I argued didn’t have any real teeth and would do little to spur a change of behavior from the Kremlin.
 
The rhetoric has become so heated that Vladimir Putin explicitly warned to “not mess with Russia” because of its status as a nuclear power with thousands of nuclear warheads at its disposal.
 
While tension is increasing on Europe’s eastern borders, troubles in the Mideast are also continuing. There are so many regional conflicts that it’s quite hard to decide which one to begin with, or which one is more important.
 
Let’s start with the conflict that garnered the most international media attention. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict reached a dangerous point in the third quarter of this year as fighting erupted in Gaza. Israeli warplanes pursued a campaign of heavy bombardment into the Gaza territory, while Hamas-led fighters attacked targets inside of Israel.
 
In the meantime, the conflict in Syria only continued to escalate; so much so that the United Nations now estimates that there are more than 7 million Syrian refugees in a conflict that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. At the same time, rebels in Libya have continued disrupting oil supplies amid continued civil strife. Iraq is no better, as fighting has erupted between Sunni and Shia.
 
Troubles in the region are so high that the United Kingdom raised its threat level to “severe,” meaning a terrorist attack on British soil is “likely” as a result of all the regional infighting. Amid the backdrop of all these regional conflicts has been the rise of the terrorist organization ISIS, which is wreaking havoc across the Mideast, and which many are now calling Al-Qaeda 2.0.
 
Aside from a full-fledged world war, the global geopolitical situation could not be bleaker as we move into the fourth quarter. The United States, which has played the role of regional policeman since the end of World War II, decided to retreat from its traditional posture in world affairs earlier this year when it did not act in Syria and allowed events in Eastern Europe to escalate. That policy is now under urgent review as these regional conflicts threaten to push countries into a heightened global conflict.
 
The bottom line is that the geopolitical situation is very bleak, and this will have a direct impact on markets, economies and commodities. As the situation continues to escalate regionally and globally, I expect investors to pile into gold. Gold has stabilized in recent months and may hit $1400 per ounce in the coming weeks. Investors still see gold as a safe-haven asset, especially during times of conflict.
 
I also expect oil prices to increase as regional conflicts create supply-side disruptions in major producing countries such as Iraq, Libya and even Algeria. While demand from Asian countries remains robust, supply is being curtailed due to armed conflict, and this will push prices higher. In this geopolitical storm, investors can find save haven in traditional hard asset commodities.
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Aug 20

Gold Trading Sideways ahead of FOMC Minutes Release

Gold Price Comments Off on Gold Trading Sideways ahead of FOMC Minutes Release

GOLD PRICES were stuck below $1,300 on Wednesday morning in London, as strong US housing data and American stock markets bolstered the US economy. Gold touched $1,294 per ounce by 10:45am in London.

A currently strong US dollar further weighed on the gold price.

Silver remained close to the 2-month low to which it dropped yesterday, trading at $19.47 per ounce on Wednesday morning. Other precious metals also came under pressure with platinum at $1,430 and palladium at $877 per ounce.

While the American stock markets rose, the European indices halted their recent rally with the German DAX down -0.41%, the British FTSE -0.29% and the French CAC 40 -0.45%.

Both gold and silver ETFs have increased their holdings this week. The world’s largest gold-backed exchange traded fund SPDR Gold Trust (NYSE Arca: GLD) increased by 0.19% and rose to 799.19 tonnes. SPDR Gold Trust is one of the ten largest holders of gold worldwide and their shares have been sought by established hedge fund managers such as George Soros and John Paulson.

On Tuesday, the gold price slipped after the US Census Bureau announced that both the US housing starts and building permits came out better than expected. Housing starts in July were up by 15.7% from June. The surge suggests that the housing market has recovered after stalling in the second half of 2013. The housing market index that was published on Monday by the NAHB also revealed that the US homebuilder confidence rose to 55, compared to 53 in the month before.

Meanwhile, investors were expecting the FOMC minutes which will be released later today. The report by the Federal Open Market Committee reflects the Fed’s monetary policy outlook and future interest rates and is hence considered a possible driver for gold. Furthermore, the Central Bankers symposium in Jackson Hole is due to start on Thursday.

“With possible market expectation of a dovish report, the event risk and price bias should lie towards a more hawkish report. This would, in general, be negative for precious metals,” said analyst Walter de Wet from Standard Bank.

In the meantime, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko agreed on holding talks as part of a summit in Minsk. It will be their first meeting since the D-Day anniversary at the beginning of June. A gun battle still broke out in the centre of the rebel-held Ukrainian city of Donetsk yesterday.

Furthermore, the Islamist terror organisation Isis claimed to have beheaded a US journalist identified as James Foley. According to the UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond, the video appeared to be genuine.

Back in Europe, the rebound of Europe’s largest economy, which contracted in the second quarter, is said to be impeded by the international geopolitical tensions. “The economic outlook for the German economy has clouded over the middle of the year in response to unfavourable international news,” commented the Bundesbank in its monthly report that was released on Tuesday.

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Aug 08

Gold Prices at 3-week High on “Ongoing Geopolitical Events” Amid Rising Safe-haven Demand

Gold Price Comments Off on Gold Prices at 3-week High on “Ongoing Geopolitical Events” Amid Rising Safe-haven Demand

GOLD PRICES reached a weekly gain of 2.2% at $1322.55 per ounce Friday morning in London, amid a drop in European and American stock markets and renewed violence in Ukraine and the Middle East.

The US President authorised limited air strikes against Islamic State (formerly ISIS).

Rocket fire from Gaza across the border resumed after a 72-hour ceasefire, so did Israeli air strikes.

Meantime, the Euro versus Dollar briefly touched $1.3400 Friday morning before falling back under this 9-month low last broken at the end of July.

Geopolitical headlines took the fore and not economic data. “Yesterday, a Ukrainian fighter jet was shot down by rebel forces and this started the rally in gold,” writes David Govett at London metals brokerage Marex Spectron. Then, President Obama authorised military strikes in Iraq and this morning the truce in Gaza ended.

“All in all, pretty much a perfect storm for gold prices.”

Gold prices in USD were set to approach the weekend at a three-week high ending a long run of weekly losses.

“Ongoing geopolitical events in Russia/Ukraine and the Israel/Palestine conflict [gave] support to the precious complex,” says the Swiss precious metals refinery group MKS in a note, adding that traders moved out of falling equities into safe haven assets providing gold with a gain of 9.2% in 2014 so far.

Panic in the equity markets, potential US strikes and the Ukraine crisis offered a safe haven-demand for gold, comments Wing Fung Precious Metals in Hong Kong, adding that “gold could climb quickly up to $1325 per ounce.”

Risks are now tilted to the upside,” confirms another analyst in Asia.

However, seeing enhanced volatility short term, Govett believes that when “situations calm down or resolve themselves, the price will come straight back down again.”

Silver lagged behind gold but crept back up and broke the $20 mark Friday morning, a level it kept from June 19 until last Wednesday, after touching seven-week lows earlier this week. Silver prices were on track for a loss of around 1% on the week so far.

The Bank of England kept interest rates at their 5-year record low of 0.5% on Thursday. Going into the weekend gold prices for UK investors were set to gain 1.7% and reach the highs of mid-April, at around £782.55 per ounce.

Another central bank declaration of note: ECB president Mario Draghi confirmed yesterday the European quantitative easing was in preparation.

Gold prices in Shanghai meantime maintained a premium of $1-2 over and above London prices this week amid falling Asian stocks and China’s trade surplus record high.

The physical gold holdings of the giant gold ETF, the SPDR Gold Trust (NYSEArca: GLD), shed more than 2 tonnes Thursday but remained unchanged Friday for a total of 797.654 tonnes.
 

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Aug 08

The Dollar, Gold & Middle East Oil

Gold Price Comments Off on The Dollar, Gold & Middle East Oil
Prospects for gold and oil as the Middle East sectarianism rises…
 

In the LAST FEW WEEKS the story of Iraq has faded from the headlines to be replaced by the story on the Ukraine, Gaza and on the business front the tumble of the Dow on the New York Stock Exchange, writes Julian D.W.Phillips in this article first shared with subscribers to The GoldForecaster.
 
But right now in the world we are watching many structural changes taking place quietly but completely. One is the shift of wealth and power to the east, the rise of the Yuan and its use in a growing number of global transactions in the place of the US Dollar. At the moment Russia is turning its economic head towards China and the developed world doing its best to do so too. And still the east is gaining ground and its share of global cash flow has doubled from 20% to 40% since the beginning of the century. This is set to continue strongly. 
 
These developments are sending warning signals to us not just that the developed world’s share is waning, but the grip on the world’s currencies by the US Dollar has to weaken over time. Not only is the threat to the Dollar’s hegemony growing from the Yuan, but key to that role, its dominance over the oil price, is in danger.
 
Of comfort to the US is its rapid rise to oil self-sufficiency, shrinking the threat from the future oil market to the Dollar oil price. But this is extremely critical to the US because it has to retain Dollar hegemony primarily because it runs a constant Trade deficit. If it is required to pay for goods in currencies other than the Dollar it is in trouble. The Dollar’s loss of its role as the sole global reserve currency will happen, but of more importance will be the loss of its power over global financial markets.
 
As it is the US Dollar has lost its power over China. With $4 trillion in its reserves and its growing ability to trade in the Yuan and not the Dollar it seems secure from any US action to curb its financial power in the world. The only recourse the US has over China will be over that $4 trillion and we wonder if its actions to prevent BNP Parisbas using the US Dollar could possibly be considered by the US under some circumstances? 
 
Apart from that, the US considers the Middle East oil supplies as part of its ‘vital interests’ in terms of its global power and the power of the Dollar. Ask yourself, if most nations were able to pay Opec in any currency, what importance would the US Dollar hold. Its critical use would be limited to trade with the US The liquidity of the US Dollar market does prevent the easy use of ‘softer’ currencies but the liquidity of the Euro, Sterling, the Swiss Franc and then Yen, together with the arrival of the Yuan on the global scene would provide sufficient liquidity in place of the Dollar. Then where would all those excess Dollars go and what would be their value?
 
So it is in this context that the importance of the situation in Iraq now becomes of disproportionate importance to the monetary world. 
 
In trying to extrapolate what will happen there we have to look at the Middle East with eyes that are neither geographical nor political. We have to look at the religious battles going on there and see where they are going to see what will happen to the oil price and in what currency it will be traded.
 
As a glimpse of the importance of these issues, the seizure of an oil tanker sent to the US for the sale of oil by the Kurds of Iraq, by the US last week has caught our attention.
 
With the declaration of a new country straddling the borders of Syria in the west and Iraq in the east, the scene is set for the full disintegration of Iraq into three countries along sectarian lines. We now look at what countries lie ahead in the region.
 
Religious & ethnic groups in Iraq
 
Each of the borders to these countries will be embroiled in war against each other. The sectarian issues have overwhelmed any political issues, which are being swamped in the process. 
 
Even the US has lost its influence with the exception of supplying arms to the government it instituted before it left. This government’s history of corruption and prejudice against Sunnis is where the war will become centered.
 
We see the most northerly ‘country’ being Kurdistan (in cream on the, map), unlikely to want to give up its autonomy rapidly becoming sovereignty and so consolidating its hold on the oilfields of Kirkuk. 
 
The second ‘country’ is the new ‘caliphate’ under the Sunnis (in light brown on the map), again, because of bitter experience of its treatment under an integrated government in Bagdad, unlikely to want to merge into a future integrated government even if moderate Sunnis win out over ISIS (most unlikely). The third ‘country’ will be in the south (in the darker green) under the Shi’ites, in command of the bulk of the nation’s oil (3 million barrels per day) and export terminal at Basra.
 
While we see this as the outcome, the cost to the country is likely to be extraordinarily high as the polarization of the two sides of Islam, which will, no doubt, come, will leave the rest of Iraq facing religious ‘cleansing’ because of the many remaining mixed areas of the country, including Baghdad (in light green on the map), where blood baths have and will surely ensue as different groups tried to establish their dominance in these ‘undefined’ areas, as you can see on the map here and chase those not of their religion out of those areas.
 
With Iran, their historic enemy, now lining up drones and other military supplies to help the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki retake the north and protect the south, many Sunnis are becoming become further alienated from the state. But we do not see the current ‘support’ of the American instituted government in Bagdad, by Iran, as being committed to that government, but certainly committed to the Shi’ites in the country. This is not about secular government, or simple geography, it is about religion and oil.
 
The rapid invasion of Iraq by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which supplied the shock troops of the assault on Mosul, has made vigorous efforts to inculcate a new identity for those living within its growing transnational sphere, setting up Shariah courts and publicizing videos in which its fighters burn their passports. Recently, the group issued an eight-page report denouncing the Middle Eastern border system as a colonialist imposition, and included photographs of its fighters destroying what it called “crusader partitions” between Iraq and Syria.
 
Across the border in Syria, a Kurdish region in the country’s north is also effectively independent of Damascus, with its own military and provisional government. And Turkey, which in the past strongly opposed an independent Kurdish state on its border, now sees the Kurds as a stable buffer between itself and the extremists of ISIS.
 
In Iraq, it has long been assumed that the Shi’ite heartland of southern Iraq, where the major oil fields are, would give the Shi’ites a tremendous advantage, leaving the Sunnis with only the vast landlocked deserts to the north and west. But northern Iraq also controls both of the country’s major rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, which flow southward toward Basra. 
 
The prospect of a more formal partition in Iraq or Syria would also lead to mass migrations and further turmoil, judging by some recent examples of state partition, like the division of Sudan in 2011, or that of India and Pakistan in 1947. Those breakups were the result of long struggles and led to terrible violence.
 
While exports from the terminal at Basra are trying hard to make up for lost exports in the north and the oil price has only hit $115, should the conflict see ISIS try to attack the south-west of Iraq and Bagdad, we do see speculators pushing oil prices up to $140. 
 
We also see Iran taking far more aggressive actions by sending in troops overtly or covertly (which they are doing now) to secure the Shia ‘country’. If the current government collapses (looking very likely right now), we see Iran’s moves to protect the Shi’ites as certainly including controlling Basra. 
 
They would, we feel try to pacify the US and the oil world by maintaining the current production levels. A failure to work with Iran, no matter the political compromise involved, would see oil prices move up over $140 to the detriment of every economy on this globe!
 
But would Iran be paid in Dollars? Or as we see Iran, currently under the control of the US vis-a-vis its oil exports (until the nuclear issue is resolved), having these controls lifted. 
 
Already it supplies China and will have the option of doing so with Iraqi oil too. With the punishment of BNP Parisbas in mind, we would expect Iran to be happy to receive Yuan (Renimbi) in payment of its oil. This would weaken Dollar hegemony and blaze a trail for other nations to move away from the Dollar (as it is now more overtly political). This will directly impact the global monetary system and Dollar hegemony.
 
As to gold, three factors emerge: 
  • The forecasts of the World Gold Council’s report from OMFIF come onto center stage;
  • The actions of the Iraqi government in buying 90 tonnes of gold can now be seen in context as its currency begins to lose all credibility, as ISIS robs the banks it invades taking the management of that currency to untenable levels;
  • With the Middle East responsible for 20% of the world’s physical gold demand last year, we expect their demand to jump not simply at retail levels but at central bank levels. Whenever war comes into the picture, one of the first casualties is the local currency. The Ukraine is a recent example of this. Even though the country is not at full scale war levels, their currency has fallen 45% this year already.
 
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Jul 02

Gold Price "Bullish", Unmoved by Strongest US Jobs Data Since 2012 as Dollar Rallies

Gold Price Comments Off on Gold Price "Bullish", Unmoved by Strongest US Jobs Data Since 2012 as Dollar Rallies
GOLD PRICE gains of $5 per ounce were erased Wednesday lunchtime in London, as new US data showed a surprise jump in June employment and the Dollar rose on the currency market.
 
Silver followed the gold price, spiking lower only to recover the tight range of the morning session around $21.05 per ounce.
 
The private-sector ADP Payrolls report said the US added 281,000 jobs last month, the strongest rise since late 2012 and well ahead of Wall Street economists’ consensus of 200,000.
 
Peaking at $1329 just before the ADP jobs Report, the gold price eased back to $1324 – a two-day low some 0.6% higher for the week so far.
 
The Euro currency fell harder, buoying the gold price for Eurozone investors above €970 per ounce, a 3-month high when first reached in late June.
 
Sterling also dropped back vs. the Dollar after the ADP jobs data – widely seen signalling the US government’s official Non-Farm Payrolls report due Thursday – but held near new 6-year highs after strong UK house price and manufacturing figures.
 
The gold price for UK investors held above £772 per ounce, a level first reached in May 2010.
 
“It’s the first year in several,” says Bloomberg, quoting Moody’s Analytics director Marisa Di Natale, “where we haven’t had some kind of manufactured fiscal showdown in Washington, which weighs on business confidence and consumer confidence.”
 
“If you have a desire,” the newswire quotes one small-company boss, “and can write your name and will go out and work hard, you can get a job here today.”
 
Ukraine’s armed forces and National Guard meantime continued what Kiev’s parliamentary speaker called their “offensive on terrorists and criminals” in the country’s pro-Russian separatist east.
 
Crude oil prices slipped however, reaching 3-week lows on the Brent contract as a key Libyan port was re-opened.
 
ISIS extremists in Iraq today ordered other Sunni groups to swear allegiance, meaning “our revolution has been hijacked” according to one militia leader.
 
“The recent strength in the gold price,” one Asian dealing desk said Wednesday morning, “continues to put downward pressure on premiums in India and China.”
 
Shanghai gold prices again ended the day at a $1.40 discount to London quotes.
 
“Trending and momentum indicators are bullish,” says the technical analysis team at Swiss investment and bullion bank UBS, looking at gold price charts.
 
Silver prices, in contrast, have “failed to push higher with gold,” says Australia’s ANZ Bank in its daily commodities note, “struggling to overcome $21.20 despite numerous tests.”
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