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Gold Slumps Towards $900

Commodities / Gold & Silver Jul 30, 2008 - 10:55 AM GMT

By: Adrian_Ash

Commodities THE SPOT PRICE OF GOLD sank to a one-month low early in London on Wednesday, dropping 2% from Tuesday morning before bouncing off $905.25 per ounce.

Crude oil ticked 20¢ higher per barrel, meantime, but base metal prices also fell, dragging the major commodity indexes lower.


World stock markets rose sharply – alongside the US Dollar – pushing the Nikkei 1.6% higher in Tokyo and adding 1.3% to the FTSE100 here in London .

The Euro touched a fresh five-week low of $1.5575 after the European Commission reported sharper-than-expected falls in consumer, industrial and economic confidence.

"The Gold Market is struggling for direction," Bloomberg News quotes Gerard Burg, an energy & minerals analyst at National Australia Bank in Melbourne .

Lower crude oil prices have dampened the "inflation prospect," Burg believes, "and this is negative for Gold ."

The latest reading of US Consumer Prices puts inflation above 5% per year. Short-term interest rates, in contrast, pay only 2% per year.

"With US investment-grade credit default swap spreads narrowing yesterday, equity markets should keep investors' attention today," says Manqoba Madinane at Standard Bank in Johannesburg .

"However, some investors could adopt a wait-and-see approach as the Gold Market searches for further clues on the greenback. [But] more strength in the greenback today could intensify the bearish tone in precious metal markets."

Despite the turnaround in local stock markets, European bond prices continued to rise on Wednesday, pushing the yield offered by two-year German bunds down another three points to 4.31%.

Ten-year UK gilt yields fell to 4.85% – an 11-week low sparked by Tuesday's poor housing and retail sales data.

New mortgage approvals in June fell by two-thirds from the same month in 2007. The CBI's latest survey of Distributive Trends gave the worst reading in 25 years.

A new report from Roger Bootle, the widely-respected "deflationist" head of Capital Economics, further undermined support for the Euro on the currency markets today by warning that "an ugly combination of weak GDP growth, poor international competitiveness, and rising government borrowing costs could lead to renewed calls for Italy to leave the currency zone."

"As things stand, not only will Italy lose ground to the rest of the Eurozone, it could soon start to do so at an even more rapid rate."

Data from the Eurostat agency says Italy 's labor costs have become 40% less competitive against Euro-giant Germany since 1995.

Looking at the short-term picture, "there's weakness in Gold and precious metals due to a stronger Dollar and weaker crude oil," reckons Matthew Zeman at LaSalle Futures in Chicago .

" Gold has been following the inflation outlook."

Blaming forecasts of a global slowdown – which call Recession a Dead-Cert Inflation Killer – the Financial Times notes that the number of outstanding contracts in US commodity markets has shrunk by 5.5% since March.

In oil, open interest has fallen to an 18-month low. Forced de-leveraging of financial players as the credit crunch bites has also been compounded by the threat of anti-speculative legislation from US politicians.

If the level of open contracts in commodity futures continues to fall, warns John Reade – chief commodity strategist at UBS in London – "this would make trading more difficult and more expensive" as liquidity evaporates and volatility increases.

Volatility in spot Gold Prices has fallen since the metal retreated from the all-time peak of $1,032 per ounce hit in mid-March.

But holding north of 20% on a daily basis for the last 17 weeks, volatility in gold remains well above its long-term average of 16.4%.

"We have one more month to go before Gold's Regular Season – following the usual summer doldrums – begins again," writes Julian Phillips of GoldForecaster. "So sellers are moving to the cautious side now.

"[But] we are seeing an expression of investment demand almost in the absence of physical demand. This is telling us that, when they weigh up the future of the banking system and paper currencies against Gold and silver, investors hold a solid belief that precious metals have a place in prudent portfolios."

By Adrian Ash
BullionVault.com

Gold price chart, no delay | Free Report: 5 Myths of the Gold Market
City correspondent for The Daily Reckoning in London and a regular contributor to MoneyWeek magazine, Adrian Ash is the editor of Gold News and head of research at www.BullionVault.com , giving you direct access to investment gold, vaulted in Zurich , on $3 spreads and 0.8% dealing fees.

(c) BullionVault 2008

Please Note: This article is to inform your thinking, not lead it. Only you can decide the best place for your money, and any decision you make will put your money at risk. Information or data included here may have already been overtaken by events – and must be verified elsewhere – should you choose to act on it.

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