Gold Investment "Ignited" by US Fed's "Powerful Shift" in Tone, China Injects More Cash into Banking System

Investment Gold prices edged back in London on Thursday morning, after rising in Asian trade to the highest Dollar and Euro levels since end-April.

Wednesday's release of minutes from the US Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting "ignited" the Gold Investment market, one analyst put it.

Orders to buy on a rising price were triggered at $1650 according to an Asian trader, taking this week's gains to 3.0% at $1667 per ounce.

Prices to Buy Silver also rose further overnight, extending this week's rise to 8.9% to reach $30.60 per ounce – the highest level since early May.

"Platinum [also] continues it's steep ascent and helps to drive the rest of the [precious metals] complex higher," says senior trader Alex Thorndike at MKS in Sydney, pointing to further concerns over industrial unrest in South Africa – source of 75% of the world's annual platinum output.

New manufacturing data from China, however – compiled in the HSBC/Markit Economics PMI indexes – today showed contraction in all areas except the stockpile of finished goods.

The contraction rate in output, new orders and prices accelerated in August, taking the headline PMI down to a 9-month low of 47.8. A reading of 50 would indicate no change.

Thursday saw the People's Bank of China conduct yet another "liquidity injection" into the nation's banking system, bringing the net injection of cash this week to CNY 365 billion ($43bn) – the biggest volume in 7 months according to Reuters and a level not usually seen outside the Chinese New Year holidays.

"We see higher inflation because of rising commodity prices, unconventional monetary policies and increasing sovereign debt," said Nic Johnson, manager of the $20 billion Commodity Real Return Strategy at Pimco, the world's largest bond-investment group, to Bloomberg yesterday.

Raising the fund's Gold Investment position to 11.5% of its portfolio, "We think gold is going to perform in a positive correlation to changes in inflation," he said.

"The [US] Fed's tone," says Chen Min, analyst at Jinrui Futures in Shenzhen, "is totally different in the minutes from previous comments.

"That helped gold break into a higher price range ahead of the peak consumption season" – starting with India's post-harvest wedding and Diwali seasons, and then running into the Chinese New Year.

Yesterday's Fed minutes said "many" members felt fresh quantitative easing would be needed "fairly soon". The option of a "flexible bond buying program" was also discussed, in contrast to the previous QE strategy of buying a pre-announced volume of US Treasury debt.

"A move to an open-ended policy stance would be a important and powerful shift," says Michael Gapen at Barclays in New York.

"It would, in effect, say that the Fed is in motion until the data tell it to stop."

European stock markets meantime ticked higher on Thursday. German and French equities have now recovered three-quarters of last autumn's 30% plunge.

Crude oil rose 1%, while broader commodity markets ticked higher.

Major-economy government bonds also rose yet again, while weaker Eurozone debt fell.

The gap between the rates of interest offered by 10-year Spanish and German debt widened to more than 5 full percentage points.

In Athens on Wednesday, Eurozone finance chief Jean-Claude Juncker said Greece is facing its "last chance" to reduce government spending and so receive fresh bail-out funds from its single-currency partners.

Although "totally opposed" to a Greek exit from the Eurozone, "I personally think ordinary people in Greece have suffered a lot," said Juncker, "and it would not be advisable to put further demands on them."

Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras yesterday vowed a new package of cuts worth €11.5 billion ($14bn) would be announced in September.

Samaras travels to Berlin on Friday, where German chancellor Merkel is today meeting French president Hollande to discuss the two-year crisis.

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