news (12)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012 07:51

Gold price falls 1% to six-week low

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LONDON — Gold prices fell 1% on Tuesday as the dollar firmed against the euro and stock markets fell, with appetite for assets seen as more risky hurt by a credit downgrade of five Spanish regions and a raft of soft corporate earnings reports.

Soft results statements from the likes of Caterpillar, General Electric and Alfa Laval have undermined stock markets, while Moody’s decision to cut its ratings on regions such as Catalonia pushed the eurozone debt crisis into the spotlight.

Pressure on gold from weakness in stocks helped push prices to six-week lows at $1,711.40 an ounce, putting it on track to decline in October for the first month in five.

Spot gold was down 0.9% at $1,713.40 an ounce at 10.09am GMT, while US gold futures for December delivery were down $11.50 an ounce at $1,714.80.

The metal has struggled for traction after twice failing to break through the $1,800 level. It hit a 2012 high earlier this month at $1,795.69 after the Federal Reserve unveiled a fresh round of quantitative easing measures to stimulate growth.

"You’ve had QE (quantitative easing) priced in and what we’re seeing now is a bit of a retracement following that," Deutsche Bank analyst Daniel Brebner said. "We have a pause in monetary policy action — it’s very unlikely we’re going to see anything in the US and China while there is political transition.

Saturday, 22 September 2012 10:52

Thief steals 100K in rare coins and spends them on Pizza?

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Some things are just too funny not to print

A 1930s Liberty quarter (Good Morning America)A young couple in Washington state may be guilty of committing an expensive crime for pennies on the dollar. Dakoda Garren, 19, has been charged with stealing a rare coin collection worth $100,000 and spending the coins at face value on a movie and pizza with his girlfriend.

The Columbian reports that a woman living in Woodland had her family coin collection stolen in May and says that Garren and his girlfriend Elizabeth Massman were the only people to visit her home during that period, when they were hired to do some part-time work.

Garren denied the accusation back in May, telling police they "didn't have any evidence against him," according to a report filed in Cowlitz County Superior Court.

But then Garren and Massman allegedly began using the coins at local establishments, spending them at face value, including a quarter that is estimated to be worth thousands of dollars.

The Daily News reports the collection includes a variety of rare coins, such as Liberty Head quarters, Morgan dollars and several others dating back to the early 1800s.

After conducting their investigation, police now say the couple spent several 1930s coins at a Battle Ground-area movie theater, using quarters worth between $5 and $68 each.

Later on the same day, they spent more of the coin collection at a local pizza restaurant, including a Liberty quarter with an estimated value between $1,100 and $18,500.

Garren has been charged with first-degree theft and is being held in jail on $40,000 bail. Which, technically, is an amount he could easily afford if the valuable coin collection were actually his.

For now, police have declined to detain Massman, saying she is nine months pregnant.

Thursday, 06 September 2012 09:03

Gold Rises to Highest Since March as Euro Advances on ECB

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Gold rose to the highest level since March in New York as speculation that the European Central Bank will announce unlimited purchases of government bonds to defuse the region’s debt crisis boosted the euro.

The euro traded near a two-month high against the dollar after two central bank officials said that ECB President Mario Draghi will announce the purchases at a policy-setting meeting today. The bond-buying program will be sterilized to assuage concerns about printing money, according to the two. Gold tends to trade inversely to the U.S. currency.

December-delivery gold gained as much as 0.6 percent to $1,703.90 an ounce on the Comex in New York and was at $1,703.80. The price has risen 8.7 percent this year. Photographer: Ron D'Raine/Bloomberg

“The ECB action today is going to be beneficial for gold,” said Walter de Wet, the head of commodities research at Standard Bank Plc.

December-delivery gold gained 1 percent to $1,711.20 an ounce by 7:30 a.m. on the Comex in New York. Bullion rallied to $1,714.90 earlier, the highest level since March 12. Spot gold advanced 0.9 percent to $1,708.48 an ounce in London, rising above $1,700 for the first time since March 13.

Gold will be at $1,840 an ounce by the end of 2012, Jeffrey Currie, head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., said in a Bloomberg Television interview today.

Policy makers’ stimulus is a “critical and direct driver of the outlook for gold,” Currie said. “In terms of the FOMC pursuing the QE3 it will be critical in putting more upward pressure on gold prices,” he said, referring to the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee and speculation about a third round of so-called quantitative easing, or asset purchases.

The ECB has been at the forefront of fighting the crisis, which has so far pushed five countries into bailouts and driven the 17-nation euro economy to the brink of recession. In July, Draghi said he would do “whatever it takes” to defend the euro.

ETP Holdings

Assets in exchange-traded products expanded to a record 2,470.7 metric tons yesterday, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Bullion is up 9.3 percent this year. Gold at the morning “fixing,” used by some mining companies to sell output, rose to $1,708.50 an ounce in London from $1,690 yesterday afternoon.

Platinum for October delivery rose for a fourth day, climbing as much as 1 percent to $1,591.50 an ounce, the highest price since April 19, and was last at $1,584.30.

Investors are buying platinum at the fastest pace since 2010 after disruptions at mines in South Africa, the largest producer, caused the biggest loss of supply in at least seven years. Purchases through exchange-traded products were the most in 20 months in August, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Silver for December delivery rose as much as 1.8 percent to $32.92 an ounce, the highest level since April 3, before trading at $32.92. Palladium for December delivery was little changed at $647.10 an ounce.

Monday, 20 August 2012 06:44

Feds to phase out dollar coins

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The presidential dollar coin has fallen victim to Washington's cost cutting efforts. The White House said Tuesday it is stopping nearly all production of the coins.The presidential dollar coin has fallen victim to Washington's cost cutting efforts. The White House said Tuesday it is stopping nearly all production of the coins.

The U.S. Mint has produced $1.4 billion in surplus dollar coins that are sitting in Federal Reserve vaults. So Vice President Biden announced Tuesday that the Treasury Department would stop mass producing the presidential coins.

"They make hundreds of millions of these coins every year; 40% of them end up being returned to the Federal Reserve because nobody wants them. And here's the worst part: They're still making coins of presidents from the 1800s, meaning the United States Mint is about halfway through its planned production," Biden said at an event to highlight the administration's efforts to curb government waste.

"And as it will shock you all, the call for Chester A. Arthur coins is not there," Biden joked.

The Treasury Department says the move will save $50 million a year. "We shouldn't be wasting money on money," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said.

But if the presidential coin is such a clear case of wasteful government spending, at least one taxpayer watchdog is growling.

"We're honestly outraged about this," said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste. "If they wanted to stop producing something that loses money in terms of minting coins, they should get rid of the penny and nickel."

The dollar coin, he said, actually saves taxpayers money. That's because it costs 18 cents to produce, with the rest going to the government as profit. And because coins last longer than bills, shifting to a dollar coin could save $5.6 billion over 30 years, according to the Government Accountability Office.

But for that to happen, the government would have to take dollar bills out of circulation.

"I don't think that's something Americans want to see us do," said Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., the author of one of five pending bills that would have suspended production of dollar coins. "The Fed policy has been to promote the dollar bill and the dollar coin, and Americans have consistently chosen the dollar bill."

The Mint will make a limited number of presidential dollars available only to collectors willing to pay above face value, beginning with one featuring Arthur next spring, Treasury spokesman Matthew Anderson said.

Beth Deisher, the editor of Coin World magazine, called the presidential coin "a wonderful teaching tool, and a nice collectible at face value."

She said the Obama administration's decision to suspend production is just the latest blunder on dollar coin policy that's been mismanaged since the ill-fated Susan B. Anthony dollar — often confused for a quarter — in 1979. Since then, most other Western nations have saved money by moving their low-denomination bills to coins, she said.

"We can understand why they made the decision," she said. "But in the long run they're dealing with symptom, not the problem."

Tuesday, 31 July 2012 23:22

Gold Forecasters Splitting After Rout

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The only three analysts to correctly predict gold’s biggest quarterly slump in four years are now split, reflecting investors’ diverging views on the probability of central banks doing more to shore up growth.

Justin Smirk of Westpac Banking Corp., the most accurate of 20 analysts tracked by Bloomberg in the second quarter, says prices will keep dropping. Eugen Weinberg of Commerzbank AG and Nick Trevethan at ANZ Banking Group Ltd. predict a record within a year. Hedge funds and other speculators are the least bullish since 2008, even with investor holdings of physical bullion in exchange-traded products close to an all-time high, government data and figures compiled by Bloomberg show.

While gold has rallied since tumbling to within 1 percent of a bear market in May, it’s still 16 percent below the record $1,923.70 an ounce reached on Sept. 6. Investors have favored sovereign debt and the dollar to protect their wealth as economic growth slows, driving yields to record lows and the U.S. currency to a two-year high. Central banks from Europe to China cut interest rates this month, and the Federal Reserve said it was prepared to act to boost the recovery.

“There is not much interest in gold right now given the fears of economic slowdown globally,” said Michael Cuggino, who manages $17 billion of assets at Permanent Portfolio Funds in San Francisco, with about 20 percent of his investments in gold. “The velocity of the money has not yet entered the system, but one has to buy gold as it is a long-term play and will keep rising as you need insurance against future inflation.”

Broad Market

Futures fell 4 percent from April to June on the Comex in New York, the most since the third quarter of 2008. The U.S. Dollar Index advanced 3.3 percent and bonds of all types returned an average of 1.6 percent, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Global Broad Market Index.

Gold is now 3.1 percent higher for the year at $1,614.60. The Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index of 24 commodities fell 1.4 percent, the MSCI All-Country World Index of equities added 5.5 percent, and the Dollar Index, a measure against six trading partners, advanced 3.1 percent. Treasuries returned 2.7 percent, a Bank of America gauge shows. The yield on the benchmark 10- year security fell to a record low of 1.379 percent on July 25, Bloomberg Trader data show.

Bullion has appreciated for 11 consecutive years, with prices surging sevenfold as investors sought a hedge against everything from accelerating inflation to Europe’s debt crisis to slumping equities. The metal rose about 70 percent as the Federal Reserve bought $2.3 trillion of debt in two rounds of so-called quantitative easing from December 2008 through June 2011. Gold’s year-to-date gain is the smallest for the period since 2005, a sign that investor demand may be waning.

Quantitative Easing

“It is not the ultimate safe-haven, and the steep fall last year and the performance this year showed that people preferred the dollar,” said Smirk, a Sydney-based commodity analyst with Westpac. “While quantitative easing may bring in some buying, it’s unlikely to go back to earlier highs.”

Hedge funds cut their net-long position, or bets on higher prices, by 72 percent from a record in August. Their holdings fell to a 43-month low of 71,129 futures and options on July 24, according to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The number of outstanding contracts on the Comex slumped 18 percent in the past year, exchange data show.

While holdings in ETPs rose fourfold in the past five years and now exceed the reserves of all but four of the world’s central banks, they have gained just 1.4 percent to 2,390.6 metric tons this year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Trade Federation

Demand in India, the biggest buyer, is poised to contract for a second year, the World Gold Council said July 16. The All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation predicted in May that purchases will drop 30 percent this year, in part because of a strike by jewelers in March and April. The London-based council cut its 2012 forecast for Chinese demand this month to 870 tons from a May estimate of as much as 1,000 tons. The difference is equal to more than two weeks of global mine production.

Treasuries held in custody by the Federal Reserve for other central banks rose $138.5 billion to a record $2.83 trillion this year, government data show. The increase of 5.1 percent compares with a 2.8 percent expansion in 2011. Germany, the U.K. and France sold debt at the lowest yields ever in July.

Global Growth

Some investors are still betting on a gold rally because central banks will have to do more to bolster growth, increasing the threat of inflation. The International Monetary Fund cut its 2013 global growth forecast to 3.9 percent from 4.1 percent on July 16, saying that Europe’s debt crisis is slowing emerging markets from China to India. It also predicted that year-end consumer prices in advanced economies would increase by 1.65 percent next year, from 1.81 percent in 2012.

“People are waiting for signals for higher inflation,” Mihir Worah, who manages Pacific Investment Management Co.’s $22 billion Commodity Real Return Strategy Fund from Newport Beach, California, said on July 23. “There is a decent possibility that some form of easing will be announced in the next few months, and then prices will start rising.”

Gold will average $1,669 this quarter, up from $1,612 in the previous three months, according to the median of 20 analysts estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Four now expect prices to keep dropping. Smirk predicts $1,490, Alexandra Knight of National Australia Bank Ltd. $1,550, David Wilson of Citigroup Inc. $1,610 and Arne Lohmann Rasmussen of Danske Bank A/S $1,600.

Central Banks

Bullion rose to a five-week high of $1,633.30 on July 27. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said a day earlier that policy makers will do whatever is needed to save the euro. There is a 90 percent chance of Greece leaving the euro in the next 12 to 18 months, Citigroup Inc. said on July 25.

“The low interest-rate regime, central-bank demand and further stimulus should create a fertile ground for gold bulls,” said ANZ’s Trevethan, a Singapore-based senior commodities strategist. Gold generally earns investors returns only through price gains, making it more attractive as borrowing costs decline.

The ECB cut its benchmark interest rate on July 5 to a record 0.75 percent. Fed officials are scheduled to announce an interest-rate decision at the end of a two-day meeting tomorrow. The central bank has kept borrowing costs at the lowest ever since 2008. China reduced interest rates in June and July.

“We will see strong hands entering the market via more central-bank buying, physically-backed exchange-traded products and purchases of bars” of bullion, said Weinberg, the head of commodity research at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

Bank Reserves

Central banks and the IMF are the largest bullion owners with 29,500 tons at the end of last year, or 17 percent of all mined metal, World Gold Council data show. Central banks have been net buyers for two straight years, the council said. Purchases this year will probably exceed the 456 tons added in 2011, the WGC estimates.

“Gold has been trapped in a range for several months,” said Michael Shaoul, the chairman of Marketfield Asset Management in New York, which oversees more than $2 billion of assets. “It has not shown much of a response to the promise of easing by the ECB, but yet you can’t call it weak because it finds some support every time there is a huge sell-off.”

Weekly top two sellers in U.S. Mint silver coin products were the 2012 Silver Proof Set and the 2012-W Proof Silver Eagle Coin. They easily won collectors’ attention, although their weekly sales were not quite as strong as the previous week.

2012 Silver Proof Set

The 2012 Silver Proof Set led U.S. Mint weekly silver coin product sales

Demand for the 2012 Silver Proof Set has been high ever since its sales started on June 4, but sales eased from a gain of 18,090 in the last round to 15,010 in this one. Over a quarter million have already sold, and this latest jump bumped the total up to 251,775.

Individual 2012-W Proof Silver Eagle coins were one of the leaders in the prior report after rising by 19,105. In this report, they took second place as 13,709 were grabbed by collectors. Only 10,735 more orders are needed to hit the major milestone of 500K in sales. The latest total rang in at 489,265.

Next on the best sellers list, but at a pace that could not compare with the two just mentioned, were the Star-Spangled Banner Bicentennial Silver Set and the individual proof Star-Spangled Banner Silver Dollar. They rose by 3,454 and 2,514 respectively.

In the bullion market, annual sales of the bullion Silver Eagle hit 18,147,000. Demand for a few of the available five ounce America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins rose as well. Their combined weekly sales were 2,300. Broken out, the Chaco Culture coin leaped by 1,800, the El Yunque coin climbed by 400, and the Olympic coin suddenly advanced another 100 after several static weeks.

Monday, 02 July 2012 23:43

PRECIOUS-Gold gains, easing eyed after bleak data

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 * US manufacturing shrinks in June, triggering QE hopes
 * Spot gold may rise to $1,606.79/oz - technicals
 * Coming up: U.S. factory orders, May; 1400 GMT

 (Adds details, comments; updates prices)
 By Rujun Shen
 SINGAPORE, July 3 (Reuters) - Gold edged higher on Tuesday,
after weak manufacturing data across the globe rekindled hopes
for more easing from central banks to support recovery.
 Gold thrives on abundant money supply and low interest
rates, which increases inflation outlook and benefits bullion
which is seen as a hedge against rising prices.
 U.S. manufacturing shrank in June for the first time in
nearly three years, following a string of data from Europe and
Asia that suggested the euro zone debt crisis was reverberating
throughout the global economy.  
 "You can take it as a sign that chances of QE (quantitative
easing) are improving," said Dominic Schnider, an analyst at UBS
Wealth Management in Singapore.
 But this does not mean that a QE will come anytime soon, he
cautioned, given the Fed just recently extended its "Operation
Twist" programme which involves selling short-term securities to
buy longer-term ones to keep long-term borrowing costs down.
 "We are unlikely to see a big add-on after Operation Twist
was extended, unless things fell off the cliff. And remember,
when things did fall off the cliff in 2008, gold fell as well."
 Spot gold edged up 0.3 percent to $1,601.74 an ounce
by 0349 GMT. U.S. gold futures contract for August delivery
 also gained 0.3 percent to $1,602.50.
 The all-important U.S. non-farm payrolls due Friday,
expected to shed light on the state of the labour market in the
world's top economy, will be scrutinised by investors eager to
predict the next move by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
 Asia's physical gold market fell back into slumber after
short-lived excitement late last week when bullion dropped below
$1,550 per ounce before staging a 3-percent rally.
 "Customers went in to pick up gold below $1,560 last week
but now the market is quiet again," said a Singapore-based
dealer, adding that gold bar premiums were about 70 cents above
London prices.
 A rally in the rupee against the dollar last Friday helped
gold purchases from India, traditionally the world's top bullion
 Spot silver rose nearly 0.9 percent to $27.72,
holding close to last Friday's high of $27.91.
 "The dimmed economic outlook leads to expectations of more
stimulus, which will weaken the dollar and help metals," said a
Shanghai-based trader.
 "Of course silver will be relatively weaker than gold due to
its industrial nature, but we do sense anticipation of a further
price rise in the physical market."
 Precious metals prices 0349 GMT
  Metal             Last    Change  Pct chg  YTD pct chg    Volume
  Spot Gold        1601.74    5.06   +0.32      2.43
  Spot Silver        27.72    0.24   +0.87      0.11
  Spot Platinum    1456.00    7.25   +0.50      4.52
  Spot Palladium    575.50    3.75   +0.66    -11.80
  COMEX GOLD AUG2  1602.50    4.80   +0.30      2.28         5673
  COMEX SILVER SEP2  27.71    0.21   +0.75     -0.75         2239
  Euro/Dollar       1.2596
  Dollar/Yen         79.77
  COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months
 (Editing by Himani Sarkar)


Wednesday, 27 June 2012 16:44

Iron Age coins worth millions unearthed in UK's Jersey

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Two metal detector enthusiasts uncover a massive discovery on the British island of Jersey. Reg Mead and Richard Miles found nearly 50,000 coins from the Iron Age, thought to have been hidden away from Julius Caesar's advancing empire. They had been treasure hunting for nearly 30 years before unearthing the find. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TREASURE HUNTER, REG MEAD, SAYING: "We hit something hard. We just put the shovel in here and moved it. We hear that grinding noise of metal rubbing against metal. Just flicked and out came five Iron Age coins. You just go numb. You say: isn't that lovely? And it's a very quiet feeling, isn't it? Wow." Each coin is thought to be worth up to 200 pounds -- or over 300 dollars -- making the find potentially worth millions. They are believed to date from around the year 50BC, when Caesar's armies were advancing north-west through France. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NEIL MAHER, CONSERVATOR, JERSEY MUSEUM, SAYING: "So they are from the Celts, from the French who were being attacked by Rome and occupied by Rome at that time. It's certainly one of the biggest. Nothing like this has been found in over 50 years. None of the people working on it had ever done anything like this in their careers." The find is said to be northern Europe's biggest hoard of Iron Age coins. Sarah Sheffer, Reuters

Friday, 22 June 2012 07:48

Modern Coins Bring Opportunities

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smooth edge dollarIt is often said that opportunity only knocks once, but thankfully it’s not true. She knocks and knocks at our door, but at some point we have to be willing to hear her and welcome her in when she shows up. Today we are witnessing some of the greatest opportunities seen in U.S. numismatics since the Great Depression.

Looking through a U.S. coinage guide book is enough to give one the impression that if you wish to collect something other than clad material the golden era to have been a collector was 1906 to 1936. High-Relief Saint-Gaudens double eagles, matte proof gold Indians, 1916-D Mercury dimes, 1915 Panama-Pacific $50 commemorative gold pieces, 1909-O $10 and 1911-D $5 Mint State Indian gold pieces, and 1936 proof Walking Liberty half dollars among many others were affordable in their infancy to those with foresight but currently hold market values so high that most new collectors are “locked out.”

If you had lived in that seemingly magical era (1906-1936) you would likely have missed almost every coin mentioned above. Only a pitiful few of that generation’s collectors seized the opportunities moderns presented at that time because they did not have a firm grasp on four primary concepts:

1. Today’s troubled infants are tomorrow’s kings.
2. In series, absolute rarity is not paramount, relative rarity is.
3. Pay attention to set structure trends.
4. Series go through infancy, growth, and maturity, so show up early.

Today’s collectors must master the same concepts if they wish to end up with a collection that matures well. Let’s look at these concepts in a little more detail.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012 17:17

Gold Ends Lower Ahead Of Fed Policy Meet

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(RTTNews) - Gold futures pared early gains to settle lower Tuesday, losing some of its shine ahead of the two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting. The Federal Reserve's two-day policy meet began today, with investors anticipating further quantitative easing to be forthcoming. Gold prices were impacted by some positive gains in the Spanish bond auctions, shedding some of the precious metal's safe haven status.

Spain's 10-year benchmark yield remained above 7 percent on Tuesday, a level considered unsustainable, having touched an euro-era record of 7.1 percent yesterday. Nonetheless, the Spanish treasury raised 3.04 billion euros from sale of its 12- and 18-month bills, slightly higher than the 3 billion euros maximum sale target.

Gold for August delivery, the most actively traded contract, dropped $3.80 or 0.2 percent to close at $1,623.20 an ounce Tuesday on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Gold traded at an intraday high of $1,634.30 an ounce and a low of $1,618.10 an ounce.

Gold ended a shade lower yesterday on fading hopes of monetary stimulus after the Greek election outcome and bond auctions in Spain and Italy where yields soared to record levels, dragging prices marginally down for the first time in seven days.

The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. unit against six major currencies, was trading at 81.375 on Tuesday, up from 82.002 in North American trade late Monday. The dollar scaled a high of 81.99 intraday and a low of 81.29.