Gold Mining: The Importance of Ore Grade

Dollar prices for Buying Gold drifted lower to $1583 per ounce Monday morning, in line with last week's trading, while stock markets also edged lower and US Treasury bonds gained, with markets focused on Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony before Congress tomorrow.

Prices to Buy Silver fell to $27.11 per ounce – nearly 1% off last week's close – as other industrial commodities also ticked lower.

On the currency markets the Euro fell against the Dollar, dropping back below $1.22.

"Keep an eye on the Dollar and the stock market for clues as to the next direction [for gold]," says David Govett, precious metals manager at brokers Marex Spectron.

"But all in all, [the market] should stay quiet, albeit thin and nervous as usual."

"Markets are settling back into wait-and-see mode," adds a note from ANZ Bank, "ahead of testimony by Fed Chairman Bernanke."

Bernanke is due on Tuesday to give his semi-annual monetary policy report to Congress.

"Any sign of an inclination towards quantitative easing would encourage gold," reckons Jinrui Futures analyst Chen Min in China, "though we think the chances of the QE3 in July are very small but the Fed may launch it in the next couple of months." 

"He'll certainly suggest that [QE] is possible," adds Mitul Kotecha, Hong Kong-based head of global foreign exchange at Credit Agricole.

"[But] markets may just come away a little bit disappointed."

"Gold Prices...remain below the level implied by the current 10-Year TIPS yields," say analysts at Goldman Sachs, referring to the yield on Treasury Inflation Protected Securities.

"Our US economists forecast subdued growth and further easing by the Fed, which should push the market's expectations of real [interest] rates back down and Gold Prices back to our 6-month forecast of $1840 per ounce."

Elsewhere in the US, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Friday released documents "related to actions of the [New York Fed] in connection with the Barclays-Libor matter", in particular the allegations that Barclays reported facing artificially low borrowing costs during the banking crisis of 2008.

The documents reveal the New York Fed made a number of recommendations to the Bank of England four years ago, suggesting ways in which Libor reporting could be tightened up. The Bank's governor Mervyn King, who at the time described the suggestions as "sensible" before passing them on to the British Banking Association, has faced criticism for not taking greater action.

Britain's economy meantime will see zero growth in 2012, according to forecasters at the Ernst & Young Item Club, who have cut their projection from their previous estimate of 0.4%.

On the Gold Futures and options market, the so-called speculative net long – calculated as the difference between bullish and bearish positions held by noncommercial traders – fell nearly 14% in the week ended last Tuesday, data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission show.

"Positioning remains weak," says a note from Standard Bank this morning.

"Net speculative length is extremely low. This underscores the fragility of any rally in gold at the moment, unless the market is sustained by the promise of further quantitative easing from the Fed." 

The world's biggest Gold ETF the SPDR Gold Trust meantime continued to see net outflow of Gold Bullion, with the amount of gold held to back shares dropping 0.7% to 1269.7 tonnes over the course of last week to Friday.

Indian demand to Buy Gold meantime is set to fall for a second year in a row, as people cut spending and hoard cash, the World Gold Council has said.

"What is more, there is less money available for Buying Gold as a result of a poorer than expected monsoon season," says a note from Commerzbank.

Over in China – which in recent months has overtaken India as the world's biggest gold buying market – gold over the past year has outperformed investment in wines such Chateau Lafite Rothschild, newswire Bloomberg reports.

Chinese policymakers meantime should "intensify the strength of prudent and moderately loose monetary policy", according to Chen Dongqi, deputy chief at government think-tank the Academy of Macroeconomics Research.

"In particular we should prevent producer deflation from expanding to the consumer area in the second half of 2012...once deflation happens in consumer prices, we would pay a big price for policy changes to solve the problem."

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