Gold Drops to 9-Week Low, Palladium Prices Plunge 5.5%


Fine Gold BarsGold returned to negative territory Thursday with a loss of 0.5% after edging 0.2% higher on Wednesday. Gold and other precious metals, especially palladium, were pressured as the U.S. dollar gained on global growth jitters brought on by weaker manufacturing data out of China and the European Union.

"Gold’s been 100 percent focused on the China slowdown," Reuters quoted Jeffrey Sica, chief investment officer of SICA Wealth Management with more than $1 billion in assets.

"The sell-off in gold I think is overdone. It’s been tagged to the strength of the dollar and whether there will be further economic stimulus," and price volatility will rise even though global economic worries and geopolitical tensions should underpin the metal, Sica said.

Gold prices settled down $7.80 to $1,642.50 an ounce in the April futures contract on the Comex in New York. The settlement price was the lowest for the yellow metal since January 13. Gold ranged from an intraday low of $1,627.50 to a high of $1,656.60. Not all analysts believe gold’s sell-off has ended.

"With physical demand not at full strength and waning investor enthusiasm, the potential for further downside in gold remains exposed," Leon Westgate, an analyst at Standard Bank Plc, said in a report that was cited on Bloomberg.

Silver prices for May delivery dropped 88.2 cents, or 2.7%, to $31.345 an ounce, bracketing $31.09 and $32.35. Silver advanced 1.2% during the previous session. Jim Wyckoff of Kitco News writes of the near technical aspects for silver in the Thursday Kitco Metals Roundup.

"May silver futures prices closed nearer the session low and hit a fresh nine-week low Thursday. Fresh chart damage was inflicted. Silver prices are in a three-week-old downtrend on the daily bar chart and the bears have the near-term technical advantage.

Bulls’ next upside price breakout objective is closing prices above solid technical resistance at this week’s high of $33.09 an ounce. The next downside price breakout objective for the bears is closing prices below major psychological support at $30.00.

First resistance is seen at $32.00 and then at Thursday’s high of $32.35. Next support is seen at Thursday’s low of $31.09 and then at $31.00. Wyckoff’s Market Rating: 4.0."

The prospect of weaker industrial demand weighed heavily on PGM metals. Platinum prices for April delivery declined $28.30, or 1.7%, to $1,612.10 an ounce, ranging from $1,604.00 to $1,645.00. Palladium prices for June delivery plummeted $37.60, or 5.5%, to $651.05 an ounce, trading between $650.40 and $689.30. While other precious metals continue to sport solid gains this year, the loss for palladium put it down $5.10, or 0.8%, in 2012.

London Precious Metals

London precious metals were lower for a third straight day, with palladium prices in particular taking a harsh 4.6% hit. When comparing the most recent London PM fixings, gold declined $13.75 to $1,635.50 an ounce, silver dipped 18.0 cents to $31.79 an ounce, platinum prices fell $33.00 to $1,607.00 an ounce, and palladium lost $32.00 to $658.00 an ounce.

U.S. Mint Bullion Coins

U.S. Mint bullion coin sales levels remained unchanged Thursday as of 3:27 PM ET. The following are the Mint’s most recent daily, monthly and year-to-date bullion coin totals.

Sales of U.S. Mint American Eagle and Buffalo Bullion Coins
  Daily Gains March Gains YTD 2012
American Eagles Gold (1 oz.) 0 32,500 137,000
American Eagles Gold (1/2 oz.) 0 0 49,000
American Eagles Gold (1/4 oz.) 0 0 40,000
American Eagles Gold (1/10 oz.) 0 25,000 115,000
American Gold Buffalo Coin (1 oz.) 0 18,500 39,000
American Eagles Silver 0 1,862,000 9,459,000


Sales of America the Beautiful 5 Oz. Silver Bullion Coins
  Prior Weekly Weekly Gains All-Time Total
Olympic National Park 5 oz. Silver Coin 300 0 84,900
Vicksburg National Military Park 5 oz. Silver Coin 300 0 38,100
Chickasaw Park 5 oz. Silver Coin 300 0 28,700
TOTAL 900 0 151,700


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 five ounce bullion silver coins since Monday, March 12.

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