In thin pre-holiday trading, gold rose 0.5% this week despite falling in four of five days. Tuesday’s near $21 rally cemented the weekly increase as each of the down days was modest.
On Friday, gold prices declined $4.60, or 0.3%, to $1,606.00 an ounce in the February futures contract on the Comex in New York. Gold reached its highest at $1,615.60 and the lowest at $1,604.00.
"Markets have now moved into a pretty rock-steady price range, with most investors on the sidelines ahead of the new year," Reuters quoted Pradeep Unni, senior analyst at Richcomm Global Services. "Volatility too has declined significantly."
"In the immediate term it looks like gold will be associated with the other risky assets and may slip lower when we see a spike in the U.S. dollar."
Gold’s pick-up this week contrasts against last week when the yellow metal plummeted 6.9 percent. Many market-watchers expect gold prices to rise again next week, although the weekly Kitco News survey has the majority of its participants remaining neutral.
"With the 2011 ending and a shortened trading session to boot next week, most participants in Kitco News’ Gold Survey are neutral on gold prices.
In the Kitco News Gold Survey, out of 32 participants, 20 responded this week. Of those 20 participants, seven see prices up, while three see prices down, and 10 are neutral on prices. Market participants include bullion dealers, investment banks, futures traders and technical chart analysts.
Participants who are neutral on gold prices next week said they’ve taken to the sidelines ahead of the year’s end because a shortened trading week and light volume can skew price trends."
In Bloomberg’s weekly survey, participants were more bullish with 16 of 26 traders and analysts expecting higher prices.
On the year, gold has gained $184.60, or 13.0%. It is the only precious metal higher in 2011.
Silver, Platinum, and Palladium
Platinum’s weekly 0.9% advance was better than gold’s, but mild compared to palladium which soared 6.5%. Silver was the only major metal to drop on the week, down 2.0%.
On Friday, silver prices for March delivery edged up 3.7 cents, or 0.1%, to $29.084 an ounce. Prices ranged from a low of $29.030 to a high of $29.450. For the year, silver has plummeted $1.85, or 6.0%.
PGM metals gained Friday as well. Platinum prices for January delivery rose $5.10, or 0.4%, to $1,429.50 an ounce, moving between $1,424.30 and $1,439.20. Palladium prices for March delivery rallied $11.85, or 1.8%, to $666.25 an ounce, trading between $648.15 and $666.95. Both PGM’s are substantially lower this year, however, with platinum plunging $348.70, or 19.6%, and palladium in the red by $137.25, or 17.1%.
London Precious Metals
London precious metals were mixed Friday and for the week as silver fell for both while the other metals gained.When comparing each of the London fixings on Friday (AM) from those on Thursday (PM):
- Gold was nearly unchanged, rising $1.00 to $1,607.50 an ounce,
- Silver shed 8.0 cents to $29.22 an ounce,
- Platinum advanced $22.00 to $1,436.00 an ounce, and
- Palladium rose $22.00 to $653.00 an ounce
For the week, silver declined 1.9%. Weekly increases included palladium at 4.6% and gold and platinum each at 0.8%.
U.S. Mint Bullion Coins – Sales Soar
U.S. Mint bullion activity decreased for the last several days with the exception of the American Gold Buffalo. It advanced 6,500 against the previous 5,500. Its December sales total of 20,000 has more than doubled the 8,500 sold in November.
While Silver Eagles moved slower, demand remained much more robust than the weekly levels in November. Up 450,000 for the week, the bullion coins topped 2 million for the month and may cross the 40 million threshold for the year.
The latest daily, weekly, monthly, 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||December Gains||YTD 2011|
|American Gold Eagle Coin (1 oz.)||0||49,500||0||65,500||910,000|
|American Gold Eagle Coin (1/2 oz.)||0||0||0||0||65,000|
|American Gold Eagle Coin (1/4 oz.)||0||0||0||0||82,000|
|American Gold Eagle Coin (1/10 oz.)||0||0||0||0||370,000|
|American Gold Buffalo Coin (1 oz.)||0||5,500||6,500||20,000||173,500|
|American Silver Eagle||0||653,000||450,000||2,009,000||39,868,500|
|Sales of America the Beautiful 5 Oz. Silver Bullion Coins*|
|Prior Weekly||Weekly Gains||YTD 2011|
|Gettysburg National Military Park 5 oz. Silver Coin||n/a – sold out||126,700|
|Glacier National Park 5 oz. Silver Coin||n/a – sold out||126,700|
|Olympic National Park 5 oz. Silver Coin||800||0||84,100|
|Vicksburg National Military Park 5 oz. Silver Coin||800||500||33,800|
|Chickasaw Park 5 oz. Silver Coin||1,200||500||26,400|
*The United States Mint does not always provide daily sales figures for its 5-ounce silver coins. The sales are current as of Monday, December 19, 2011.
Read this week’s article on sales of commemorative coins for a recap on their performances and the latest sales for other U.S. Mint numismatic products.