Gold prices dipped below $1,700 an ounce on Monday after climbing for three straight days to only register a modest weekly increase of 0.1%. Commodities were pressured, say analysts, as demand concerns were raised after China posted its largest trade deficit in at least a decade.
Gold prices settled down $11.70, or 0.7%, to $1,699.80 an ounce in the April futures contract on the Comex in New York. Gold moved from an intraday low of $1,692.50 to a high of $1,717.40.
"All commodities, including gold, have taken a hit because of China," David Meger, the director of metal trading at Vision Financial Markets in Chicago, said in a telephone interview that was relayed on Bloomberg.
China reported a trade deficit of $31.5 billion in February after a surplus of $27.3 billion in January. Jon Nadler, Senior Analyst at Kitco Metals Inc. writes:
"The catalyst for this morning’s downside price action came from the tallying of China’s largest trade gap (more than $34 billion) in more than two decades on Saturday. When combined with the data concerning that country’s factory output and consumer retail activity, the conclusion that China is indeed experiencing notable difficulties is obviously not very hard to draw. Commodity market watchers have cautioned quite some time ago that ‘as goes China so do commodities’. As of today, that direction is lower."
Silver prices for May delivery declined 79.9 cents, or 2.3%, to $33.413 an ounce, touching a low and high of $33.38 and $34.41. Silver’s fall cut into its gain this year which now stands at $5.50, or 19.7%.
Palladium prices for June delivery fell $5.70, or 0.8%, to $704.25 an ounce, trading between $699.00 and $710.80.
Platinum bucked the trend of other major metals. Platinum prices for April delivery added $10.80, or 0.6%, to $1,695.70 an ounce, ranging from $1,674.30 to $1,707.90. With its increase and silver’s loss, platinum on Monday became the best performing precious metal in 2012. It has gained $290.80, or 20.7%.
London Precious Metals
London precious metals prices were mixed Monday, with all but silver higher. When comparing the latest London PM fixings, gold gained $10.00 to $1,697.50 an ounce, silver fell 10.0 cents to $33.77 an ounce, platinum added $32.00, or 1.9%, to $1,687.00 an ounce, and palladium advanced $14.00, or 2.0%, to $704.00 an ounce.
U.S. Mint Bullion Coins
The U.S. Mint’s most popular and each of its largest bullion coins advanced to start the week.
On the popular side, sales of the one once Gold Eagle rose 2,000 and the Silver Eagle added 320,000. The increases lifted the gold bullion coin to 20,500 for the month (500 above last month’s tally) and pulled sales of the silver bullion coin over the 1 million mark for March.
On the largest side, each of the Mint’s bullion America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Coins rose by 300. It was the second straight day that sales in the series have advanced. It has not been unusual for their levels to remain unchanged for weeks.
The following are the most recent daily, monthly and year-to-date bullion sales figures as published by the U.S. Mint.
|Sales of U.S. Mint American Eagle and Buffalo Bullion Coins|
|Daily Gains||March Gains||YTD 2012|
|American Gold Eagles (1 oz.)||2,000||20,500||125,000|
|American Gold Eagles (1/2 oz.)||0||0||49,000|
|American Gold Eagles (1/4 oz.)||0||0||40,000|
|American Gold Eagles (1/10 oz.)||0||5,000||95,000|
|American Gold Buffalo Coin (1 oz.)||0||12,000||32,500|
|American Silver Eagles||320,000||1,065,000||8,662,000|
|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||300||84,900|
|Vicksburg National Military Park 5 oz. Silver Coin||500||300||38,100|
|Chickasaw Park 5 oz. Silver Coin||0||300||28,700|
All bullion coin totals in the above tables are in the number of coins sold, not in the amount of ounces.