Gold was nearly unchanged this week as prices climbed a modest 60 cents following a loss of $15.00 last week. Other precious metals retreated for the week. And with silver’s 1.2% loss, investors were less keen on American Silver Eagles as its weekly sales were handily the worst of the year.
As for gold, it garnered little to no support from a U.S. Labor Department report on Friday which showed that U.S. inflation rose 0.2% in January — the largest increase since September.
"CPI was mild, up slightly — [it] will certainly gain more in the next two months from energy inflation, so gold did not get the push from CPI inflation this month," MarketWatch quoted Richard Hastings with Global Hunter Securities.
"But there is a high probability of contribution from the U.S. CPI [in the] next two months," he added. "We still see gold gaining on higher U.S. inflation in late spring early summer."
Gains in consumer prices were largely led by gasoline which rose 0.9% in January after having dropped 2.0% in December and 2.4% in November. Prices at the pump are expected to move much higher by summer, with forecasts topping $4.00-plus per gallon.
In closing Friday, gold prices edged down $2.50, or 0.1%, to $1,725.90 an ounce in the April futures contract on the Comex in New York. Gold bracketed a low of $1,718.60 and a high of $1,737.50.
"Gold cannot seem to break away from the influence of the wider financial markets," Reuters quoted James Steel, chief commodity analyst at HSBC.
"The eventual settlement of the euro zone sovereign debt crisis should eventually break this link. Until then, gold trading is likely to be volatile and prone to chase euro zone and especially Greek headlines," Steel said.
Higher Gold Prices Expected Next Week
Gold prices are expected to rise next week according to sizeable majorities in two major surveys. Of the 23 participants in the Kitco News Gold Survey, 16 see prices up, 3 see prices down, and 4 were neutral.
"Those who see higher prices gave several reasons: gold holding support at $1,700 an ounce, open interest building in the Comex gold futures and continued loose monetary policy," reports Kitco News.
"Several also expressed optimism that Monday’s meeting of the Eurogroup finance ministers will come to some agreement to help bail out Greece prior to when the country must make a big bond payment or risk a default."
Bloomberg’s weekly survey was just as bullish. Out of 22 surveyed, 12 participants expect gold prices to rise, 5 see them lower and 5 remained neutral.
With gold little changed this week, its position for the year improved only slightly. The yellow metal has gained $159.10, or 10.2%, in 2012.
Silver, Platinum, and Palladium Futures
In other precious metals futures in New York, silver prices for March delivery stepped back 15.4 cents, or 0.5%, to $33.216 an ounce. Silver marked its lowest price at $33.050 and its top price at $33.690. The white metal lost 1.2% (-39.0 cents) this week but remains up $5.301, or 19.0%, on the year.
Platinum and palladium moved in opposite directions Friday and for a third straight day.
Platinum prices for April delivery advanced $7.80, or 0.5%, to $1,633.90 an ounce, ranging from $1,627.00 to $1,646.60. The PGM metal fell 1.6% (-$25.90) this week. It has gained 16.3% (+$229.00) in 2012.
Palladium prices for March delivery declined $8.50, or 1.2%, to $688.10 an ounce, trading between $685.00 and $699.00. Palladium lost 2.1% (-$14.95) this week which trimmed its gain this year down to 4.9% (+$31.95).
London Precious Metals
London precious metals advanced as a group on Friday but were unchanged or mixed for the week. When comparing the London PM fixings between Thursday and Friday:
- Gold climbed $10.00, or 0.6, to $1,723.00 an ounce,
- Silver rose 30.0 cents, or 0.9%, to $33.48 an ounce,
- Platinum advanced $28.00, or 1.7%, to $1,638.00 an ounce, and
- Palladium gained $15.00, or 2.2%, to $697.00 an ounce
Unusually, both platinum and palladium were flat this week. Silver fell a modest 0.2% while gold advanced 0.7%.
U.S. Mint Bullion Coins – Demand Falls for American Silver Eagles
A three-day bullion lull did not help weekly sales of U.S. Mint bullion coins. Sales were completely muted Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. As a result, performances across each of the Mint’s bullion products declined this week as compared to last week. Still, bullion American Gold Eagles managed to performed well with a weekly pick-up of 6,500. However, companion bullion American Silver Eagles came in at 125,000 — a crawling pace for the Mint’s most popular coin which had sales of over 6.1 million in January alone. The weekly tally is the worst of the year, and well down from the second lowest weekly amount of 400,000 which was recorded toward the end of last month.
The following U.S. Mint bullion coin figures show the latest weekly, monthly and year-to-date sales.
|Sales of U.S. Mint American Eagle and Buffalo Bullion Coins|
|Daily Gains||Prior Weekly||Weekly Gains||Feb. Gains||YTD 2012|
|American Gold Eagles (1 oz.)||0||7,000||6,500||14,500||99,000|
|American Gold Eagles (1/2 oz.)||0||0||0||0||49,000|
|American Gold Eagles (1/4 oz.)||0||2,000||0||2,000||40,000|
|American Gold Eagles (1/10 oz.)||0||0||0||0||85,000|
|American Gold Buffalo Coin (1 oz.)||0||1,500||2,000||3,500||17,000|
|American Silver Eagles||0||615,000||125,000||835,000||6,942,000|
|Sales of America the Beautiful 5 Oz. Silver Bullion Coins|
|Prior Weekly||Weekly Gains||All-Time Total|
|Olympic National Park 5 oz. Silver Coin||0||0||84,600|
|Vicksburg National Military Park 5 oz. Silver Coin||0||0||37,300|
|Chickasaw Park 5 oz. Silver Coin||0||0||28,100|
All bullion coin totals in the above tables are in the number of coins sold, not the amount of ounces. The latest five-ounce sales were provided by the U.S. Mint on Friday, January 27, 2012. The Mint does not publish daily sales figures for its five-ounce silver coins. Although, since the last released date is more than two weeks past, there likely has not been new sales to report.