from Ben Traynor – BullionVault

THE U.S. DOLLAR gold price hit its lowest level since early January on Wednesday morning,when it sank to $1622 an ounce ahead of US markets open. Silver prices dropped to $31.76 an ounce – a fall of 1.7% for the week so far, but still just above lastweek’s low.

Stocks and commodities also fell while the Dollar extended gains after yesterday’s publication ofthe latest Federal Reserve policy meeting minutes. On Tuesday, the gold price fell 2% in less than an hour following the publication of minutes fromlast month’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting.

Gold Age group Gold Sinks to 3 Month Low as Fed Distances Itself from Further QE StimulusAt the same time, the Dollar jumped 1% against the Euro, after the FOMC minutes appeared tosuggest Fed policymakers are less inclined towards a third round of quantitative easing, with theFed’s staff economists revising their inflation forecasts upwards.

“I would have to see some pretty severe [economic] circumstances before I endorse for anotherround of quantitative easing,” said Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta president Dennis Lockhart, whois voting FOMC member this year, speaking on Wednesday.

“The outlook is positive enough that I am not sure I see the need for it.

“The Fed has distanced itself from QE3,” says James Steel, chief commodity analyst at HSBC .One FOMC member, Richmond Fed president Jeffrey Lacker, voted against last month’s decision toleave the policy rate on hold between zero and 0.25%.

“In [Lacker's] view,” say the minutes, “with inflation close to the Committee’s objective of 2%,the economy expanding at a moderate pace, and downside risks somewhat diminished, the federalfunds rate will most likely need to rise considerably sooner to prevent the emergence of inflationarypressures.”

Gold has fallen sharply on other occasions this year following Fed policy communications. March13, the day this latest FOMC decision was announced, saw the spot market gold price drop 2%from the day’s high, while on February 29, gold fell nearly $100 an ounce after Fed chairman BenBernanke told Congress he saw potential inflationary pressures from rising gasoline prices.

The FOMC minutes are “in line with what Bernanke said in February” says HSBC’s Steel.

“But nonetheless it’s enough to reduce the near-term bullish momentum.”

“Gold really does need the physical markets to step in right now,” adds a note from Swissinvestment bank UBS.

“So far the response has been limited. The jewelers’ strike in India persists, overnight demand fromthat region was poor and the Chinese market is closed, but returning tomorrow.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we push lower towards $1600,” says Standard Bank commoditiesstrategist Walter de Wet.

“That is what we think is a floor and we are unlikely to fall substantially below that.”

De Wet adds that real interest rates – the nominal rate minus inflation – are unlikely to turn positivein 2012.

“We still think globally that monetary supply will continue to grow…these things are positive forgold.”

Here in Europe, the European Central Bank kept its policy rate on hold at 1% Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Europe, yields on benchmark 10-Year Spanish government bonds hit 3-month highson Wednesday, after Spain failed to raise as much as hoped from a bond auction this morning – thefirst since the government unveiled its budget last week.

Yields on shorter-dated Spanish bonds have fallen significantly since December last year, when theECB announced its three year longer term refinancing operations, at which European banks havesince borrowed more than €1 trillion.

“It’s clear the downtrend in yields on sovereign bonds was triggered by the LTROs,” said ChristianSchulz, a former economist at the ECB now with Germany’s Berenberg Bank, speaking before theECB’s press conference on Wednesday.

“If the ECB were to say ‘Well, actually now we’re thinking about exiting this strategy’, that wouldcause concern over whether these low interest rates are sustainable.”

Over in China, the world’s second-largest source of private demand for buying gold, the ChinaSecurities Regulatory Commission announced Tuesday that it is raising the limit on investment inChinese markets by foreign fund managers from $30 billion to $80 billion.

Chinese authorities have also more than tripled the amount of Renminbi foreigners can raise inHong Kong to invest on China’s mainland, the Financial Times reports.

Ben Traynor
BullionVault

Editor of Gold News, the analysis and investment research site from world-leading gold ownershipservice BullionVault, Ben Traynor was formerly editor of the Fleet Street Letter, the UK’s longest-running investment letter. A Cambridge economics graduate, he is a professional writer and editorwith a specialist interest in monetary economics.

(c) BullionVault 2012

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