Gold Bullion "Seen as Source of Cash Right Now" as Stocks Fall Ahead of Fiscal Cliff Talks

Gold Bullion fell through $1710 per ounce Friday morning in London, dropping below that level for the second day in a row, as stocks, commodities and the Euro all fell and US Treasuries gained ahead of negotiations among US lawmakers about the so-called fiscal cliff.

"Gold is being seen increasingly as a source of cash," says Simon Weeks, head of precious metals at bullion bank Scotia Mocatta.

"Liquidation of gold can cover losses elsewhere."

Silver Bullion meantime fell to $32.19 an ounce.

On the currency markets, the US Dollar Index, which measures the Dollar's strength against other major currencies, touched a 10-week high as the Euro's recent rally stalled.

Heading into the weekend, Gold Bullion looked set for a 1.2% weekly loss by Friday lunchtime in London, while silver was down 1.3%.

President Obama is due to meet congressional leaders later today for negotiations on the so-called fiscal cliff due at the start of next year. Tax cuts made by former president George W Bush are due to expire on December 31, while spending cuts for the military and social programs are currently scheduled for January as a result of a deficit deal agreed last year.

Lawmakers are negotiating on how to reduce the federal deficit over the next deficit; failure to agree a deal would see the tax cut expiries and spending cuts occur as scheduled.

"[Obama] will not sign, under any circumstances, an extension of tax cuts for the top 2% of American earners," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday, a day after President Obama suggested taxes should be raised for the wealthy to reduce the deficit.

"What we won't do is raise tax rates," countered Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, who will be at today's talks.

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's stripped the US of its AAA credit rating in August 2011, after weeks of negotiations on raising the so-called 'debt ceiling' for federal debt. 

"The [US credit] rating is in the hands of policymakers," says John Chambers, chairman of S&P's sovereign rating committee.

"If no budget deal is reached in the early part of next year and the debt trajectory just continues to rise," adds Bart Oosterveld at fellow ratings agency Moody's, "then we'd be looking at a downgrade of a notch to Aa1."

Aa1 is the second-highest Moody's rating after Aaa.

"If we don't see an agreement and there is a gridlock, it will burden the Dollar and benefit gold," reckons Dominic Schnider at UBS Wealth Management.

The UK government is unlikely to end its ownership of Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds "any time soon", according to a report published by parliament's Public Accounts Committee.

"The £66 billion cash spent purchasing shares in RBS and Lloyds may never be recovered," the report on the sale of Northern Rock says.

"The low level of competition [to buy Northern Rock assets] does not give us confidence that the taxpayer will make a profit on the sale of RBS or Lloyds... it seems inevitable that their 'temporary public ownership' will last for some time, if getting value for our investment remains the most important objective for government. "

By contrast, the US Treasury Department said earlier this year that it expects to make a $2 billion profit on the stakes it bought in US banks during the 2008 crisis.

The volume of Gold Bullion held to back shares in the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD), the world's largest Gold ETF, rose to within 0.07% of its all-time high yesterday, rising to 1339.6 tonnes during Thursday's US trading.

Soros Fund Management increased its investment in the GLD by 49% to 1.32 million shares during the third quarter, according to the fund's 13F filing with Securities and Exchange Commission. Hedge fund Paulson & Co., the GLD's biggest investor, maintained its stake at 21.8 million shares.

In its quarterly Gold Demand Trends published yesterday, the World Gold Council notes that notes that gold investment through exchange traded funds was strong in Q3, in contrast with demand in many markets for Gold Coins and bars.

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