Gold, silver and platinum ended Friday higher to enhance weekly gains while palladium retreated on the day but still soared on the week. Market watchers were glued to news out of Europe and looking ahead to the U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting on Wednesday and Thursday. In closing the week, expectations of a Greek debt agreement were said to influence gold prices the most.
For now, "gold continues to benefit from the ‘risk-on’ theme of recent trading sessions," MarketWatch quoted Brien Lundin, editor of the Gold Newsletter. "The lack of bad news from Europe, and the potential for some positive developments on that front, have emboldened investors to rebuild positions in gold," said Lundin. "Basically, it’s becoming apparent that, unless Europe’s financial house of cards collapses beforehand, the only way to keep it intact will be to print much more money. And this will be very good for gold."
Gold prices settled up $9.50, or 0.6%, to $1,664.00 an ounce in the February futures contract on the Comex in New York. The yellow metal moved from an intraday low of $1,645.20 to a high of $1,666.80.
Gold advanced 2.0% (+$33.20) this week after rising 0.9% last week. Analysts provided split views on gold’s direction next week, according to surveys from Kitco News and Bloomberg. The Bloomberg survey had 9 participants forecasting higher gold prices, 7 seeing them lower and 4 staying neutral. The Kitco survey was evenly split with bulls and bears with a handful of uncommitted.
"In the Kitco News Gold Survey, out of 32 participants, 23 responded this week. Of those 23 participants, 9 see prices up, while 9 see prices down, and 5 are neutral on prices," Kitco News reports.
"For those who see higher prices, they said general strength in commodities this week should support gold. Also, gold is holding above the 200-day moving average, which is around $1,640 an ounce… Further, some said if the Federal Reserve comes out with some sort of quantitative easing program at its meeting next week, then that will underpin prices.
Those who see lower prices said it’s too premature to expect the Fed to launch a new stimulus program and that gold prices have rallied too far, too fast."
Gold has gained $97.20, or 6.2%, in 2012.
Silver, Platinum, and Palladium Futures Surge on Week
In other precious metals, silver prices for March delivery soared $1.166, or 3.8%, to $31.675 an ounce. The metal traded between $30.280 and $31.900. Silver rallied 7.3% (+$2.15) on the week and has gained 13.5% (+$3.76) in 2012, making it the top performing precious metal.
Platinum prices for April delivery added $14.30, or 0.9%, to $1,532.30 an ounce, ranging from $1,506.50 to $1,538.10. Platinum climbed 2.9% (+$43.50) for the week and has leapt 9.1% (+$127.40) for the year.
Palladium prices for March delivery declined $2.70, or 0.4%, to $675.70 an ounce, trading between $663.90 and $679.50. The PGM metal jumped 6.4% (+$40.65) this week which brought it out of the red and up 3.0% (+$19.55) in 2012.
London Precious Metals Lower Friday but Higher for Week
While gaining on the week, earlier fixed London precious metals declined for a second straight Friday. When comparing the London fixings on Friday (PM) from those on Thursday (PM):
- Gold lost $2.00 to $1,653.00 an ounce,
- Silver fell 43.0 cents to $30.36 an ounce,
- Platinum declined $13.00 to $1,517.00 an ounce, and
- Palladium lost $9.00 to $669.00 an ounce
Weekly increases included 1.1% for gold, 2.4% for silver, 2.6% for platinum and 6.7% for palladium.
U.S. Mint Bullion Coin Demand Remains High
Demand for American Eagle bullion coins remained high during the third week of January with orders taken in at a greater rate than the last several months and new records beginning to take shape.
20,500 ounces of American Gold Eagles were ordered by U.S. Mint authorized purchasers during the holiday-shortened week, lifting the monthly sales total to 106,000 ounces which is the highest since August. In terms of sizes and the number of Gold Eagles sold to date in January:
- the one ounce is at 67,500 which is the most since September,
- the half ounce is at 46,000 which is the highest since December 2009,
- the quarter ounce is at 32,000 which is the strongest since June 2010, and
- the tenth ounce is 75,000 which is the best since February
Combined across all sizes, 220,500 Gold Eagles have been sold for the month which is the most since June 2010.
Weekly sales of American Silver Eagle bullion coins totaled 700,000. While the level is the slowest week thus far in 2012, the coin’s January total of 5.297 million is the second best monthly amount since the series debuted in November 1986. The all-time Silver Eagle monthly record occurred in January 2011 at 6.422 million.
The latest daily, weekly, and year-to-date U.S. Mint bullion coin sales follow:
|Sales of U.S. Mint American Eagle and Buffalo Bullion Coins|
|Daily Gains||Prior Weekly||Weekly Gains||January/YTD 2012|
|American Gold Eagle Coin (1 oz.)||0||8,500||6,000||67,500|
|American Gold Eagle Coin (1/2 oz.)||0||5,000||28,000||46,000|
|American Gold Eagle Coin (1/4 oz.)||0||0||2,000||32,000|
|American Gold Eagle Coin (1/10 oz.)||0||0||0||75,000|
|American Gold Buffalo Coin (1 oz.)||0||4,500||1,500||9,500|
|American Silver Eagle||125,000||1,050,000||700,000||5,297,000|
|Sales of America the Beautiful 5 Oz. Silver Bullion Coins|
|Prior Weekly||Weekly Gains||All-Time Total|
|Olympic National Park 5 oz. Silver Coin||500||0||84,600|
|Vicksburg National Military Park 5 oz. Silver Coin||0||2,000||36,300|
|Chickasaw Park 5 oz. Silver Coin||0||500||27,400|
All bullion coin totals in the above tables are in the number of coins sold, not the amount of ounces. The United States Mint does not provide daily sales figures for its 5-ounce silver coins. The latest 5-ounce sales are current as of Tuesday, January 17, 2012.