Gold and silver were nearly unchanged Friday, but both metals logged weighty weekly losses that were triggered early in the week when Federal Reserve policy makers edged up their assessment of the U.S. economy while simultaneously dashing hopes for another round of quantitative easing. In the end, gold prices tumbled 3.3% for the week after rising 0.1% last week.
"The reduced probability of further quantitative easing in the U.S. [has] weighed upon the precious metals," strategists at Barclays Capital said in a note cited on MarketWatch. "Gold still faces near-term hurdles such as bouts of dollar strength, broad risk reduction and profit-taking.
"However, the broader macro backdrop remains favorable for gold, given the negative interest-rate environment, longer-term inflationary concerns and lingering sovereign-debt uncertainties," the strategists added.
On Friday, gold prices settled down $3.70, or 0.2%, to $1,655.80 an ounce in the April futures contract on the Comex in New York. Gold moved between an intraday low of $1,639.70 and a high of $1,664.90.
Expectations for Gold Prices Next Week
The majorities in gold surveys last week missed the mark with their expectations of higher prices this week. Bullish sentiments are less prominent going into next week, although the bulls still slightly outweigh the bears in the latest surveys.
"In the Kitco News Gold Survey, out of 32 participants, 21 responded this week. Of those 21 participants, nine see prices up, while seven see prices down, and five are neutral," reports Kitco.
"Survey participants who are bullish said that the recent break in prices is finding support at current levels, with gold likely to rebound to test $1,700 an ounce, perhaps as soon as next week…
Those who are bearish are generally citing technical-chart patterns for the move, suggesting that the current weakness is not quite over yet."
Bloomberg’s latest survey has 13 of 26 analysts forecasting higher gold prices. 9 are bearish and 4 are neutral. Bloomberg’s Nicholas Larkin states that traders are the "least bullish in two months."
Gold gave back a sizeable portion of its year-to-date gains this week. The yellow metal is currently up $89.00, or 5.7%, in 2012. Once the best performing precious metal of the year, it is now the worst.
Silver, Platinum and Palladium Futures
Silver led gold in losses this week, falling 4.7% which equates to a drop of $1.61. Palladium came behind gold marking a weekly decline of 1.2%. Pressured the least was platinum with its somewhat modest dip of 0.6%.
On Friday, silver prices for May delivery shed 12.2 cents, or 0.4%, to $32.604 an ounce, ranging from $32.135 to $32.755. Silver is up $4.69, or 16.8%, this year.
Platinum prices for April delivery declined $8.40, or 0.5%, to $1,675.50 an ounce, ranging from $1,664.20 to $1,693.20. For the year, platinum has gained $270.60, or 19.3%, making it the top performing major metal.
Palladium prices for June delivery closed down $8.20, or 1.2%, to $701.70 an ounce, ranging from $697.80 to $708.25. The noble metal has climbed $45.55, or 6.9%, in 2012.
London Precious Metals
London precious metals were mostly higher Friday and mixed on the week. When comparing the most recent London PM fixings:
- Gold advanced $10.00, or 0.6%, to $1,658.00 an ounce,
- Silver dipped 9.0 cents, or 0.3%, to $32.27 an ounce,
- Platinum added $1.00, or 0.1%, to $1,677.00 an ounce, and
- Palladium gained $10.00, or 1.4%, to $703.00 an ounce
PGM metals rose in London this week, with palladium up 1.9% and platinum gaining 1.3%. Weekly precious metals losses included gold at 1.7% and silver at 4.7%.
U.S. Mint Bullion Coins
As New York gold and silver prices in March have fallen 5.9% and 3.2%, respectively, bargain hunters have stepped in to significantly boost U.S. Mint bullion sales. With just half a month’s data, the latest U.S. Mint sales figures has each of its major bullion coins up more than double from a month earlier. In comparing ounces sold between the two months:
- 31,500 ounces of 22 karat American Gold Eagle coins have been claimed in March versus the 21,000 ounces in all of February
- Sales of 24-karat American Gold Buffalo coins are at 18,500 ounces this month against 7,000 from last month
- 1.647 million American Silver Eagle coins have been sold in March as compared to the 1.490 million in February
The following are the most recent daily, weekly, monthly and year-to-date bullion coin totals as published by the U.S. Mint.
|Sales of U.S. Mint American Eagle and Buffalo Bullion Coins|
|Daily Gains||Prior Weekly||Weekly Gains||March Gains||YTD 2012|
|American Gold Eagles (1 oz.)||3,000||10,000||11,500||30,000||134,500|
|American Gold Eagles (1/2 oz.)||0||0||0||0||49,000|
|American Gold Eagles (1/4 oz.)||0||0||0||0||40,000|
|American Gold Eagles (1/10 oz.)||0||5,000||10,000||15,000||105,000|
|American Gold Buffalo Coin (1 oz.)||0||12,000||6,500||18,500||39,000|
|American Silver Eagles||150,000||470,000||902,000||1,647,000||9,244,000|
|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 sales in the above tables are in number of coins sold, not in the amount of ounces sold. The U.S. Mint has not sold any additional five ounce bullion silver coins since Monday, March 12.