GOLD drifted lower towards $1460 an ounce Friday morning in London, having climbed to its highest level since last week's price drop at $1485 during Asian trading.
"The next resistance level is $1487," says a note from technical analysts at Scotia Mocatta published late Thursday.
"Should we trade through that, we believe it will open up a full retracement to the $1522 lows...support is at $1322."
Silver meantime rose as high as $24.86 an ounce in Friday's Asian trading before falling back, while stocks and commodities fell and US Treasuries gained ahead of the release of provisional first quarter US GDP figures.
Over in Asia, "there's panic buying [of physical gold products]," says Ronald Leung, chief dealer at Hong Kong's Lee Cheong Gold Dealers.
"Everybody is buying gold...the physical market is still tight. The thing is that there are no immediate stocks."
Wholesale dealers have this week reported premiums over the spot gold price of around $3 an ounce in Hong Kong and Singapore, and as high as $10 in Mumbai.
"You must be prepared to pay up," one Singapore dealer told newswire Reuters this morning.
"I would think premiums will remain high in the short-term because of a shortage in immediate stocks. You have to wait for three days if you want to get gold now."
According to a senior bullion bank executive speaking to BullionVault Thursday, Swiss capacity for producing kilo bars – the preferred form of gold bullion amongst private investors in Asia – is currently booked out until the end of May.
The US Mint meantime has sold 306,500 ounces of American Eagle gold coins so far this month, almost three times the volume sold in March.
"Although impressive in its scale," says the latest commodities note from investment bank Natixis, "this retail demand will need to be sustained for a prolonged period if it is to offset not just the absence of [institutional investment] demand, but also potentially new investor sales in the coming weeks."
As of Thursday, the world's biggest gold exchange traded fund SPDR Gold Trust (ticker: GLD) has seen outflows of 42.7 tonnes from a week earlier, taking total holdings to just under 1090.3 tonnes, their lowest level since September 2009.
"Heavy disinvestment from ETF investors is being offset by strong physical demand in key markets such as India and China," says a note from Australian bank Macquarie, "but neither of these is likely to continue indefinitely, and which runs its course first could determine whether the price moves $100 an ounce higher or lower."
On the currency markets, the Euro drifted lower against the Dollar but remained above $1.30. The Euro gold price meantime looked set for a 4.7% weekly gain at €1126 an ounce. By comparison, gold in Sterling was up only 2.8% on the week at £947 an ounce after the Pound rallied yesterday following news that the UK avoided recession in Q1.
In Switzerland meantime, the chairman of the country's central bank today criticized proposals that would prevent his institution from selling any of its gold reserves, arguing it could hinder monetary policy.
Consumer price deflation accelerated in Japan last month, with the consumer price index down -0.9% year-on-year compared to -0.8% for February, official data published Friday show.
Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda told a press conference that "there were no calls...for further monetary easing" at today's central bank policy meeting, where policymakers decided to leave interest rates at 0.1%.
"For the time being," said Kuroda, "the BOJ will be buying 50 trillion Yen of government bonds annually to expand the monetary base by 60 trillion to 70 trillion Yen each year."
Two BOJ board members dissented from the central bank's projection that inflation will reach 2% over the next three years, Kuroda revealed.