Gold prices benefited from overnight advances in most commodities and a lift in the global equity markets. The precious metals were advancing on the back of a much softer (down 0.42 on the index) US dollar and on the strong rise in crude oil values. Far from being a rise that should be interpreted as calling the Fed's bluff, these rallies actually reflect the fact that speculators are taking the Fed's pronouncements more like gospel - at least as regards economic growth and the blessing of the return to risk appetite.
New York spot gold dealings started Thursday's session with a hefty 1.26% gain, rising by nearly $12 back to $960 per ounce. The recovery in gold comes amid conditions that show the gold ETFs as largely 'absent' from the party, and that the majority of positions are to be found in the futures pits, among momentum spec funds. Go ahead and call that a healthy and sustainable base. We will abstain. The ETFs have, in fact, been losing balances of since early June.
Silver popped 38 cents higher this morning, coming up to $14.91 per ounce as the perceptions of industrial usage turned into large bets in the industrial metals sector. Platinum was not/could not be far behind in this stampede; it rose $25 to $1264 an ounce, while palladium added $5 to climb to $276 per ounce.
Overnight markets took the Fed meeting announcements to be sufficiently upbeat to allow for a resumption of risk appetite. The 'leveling' in the economy that the Fed observes translated into two scenarios that speculative money loves to hear at the moment: a) that interest rate hikes are perhaps still one year away, and b) that growth -even the slow and uneven variety- means commodities can continue to party on.
Witness stock futures, which bolted higher this morning. Witness the dollar, which was partially abandoned in favour of lower-hanging fruit to be found on other asset trees. See crude oil, which, despite poor fundamentals, piled on another $2 to rise to over $72 per barrel. If nagging little numbers such as falling US retail sales (despite the famous CFC auto program), rising unemployment claims, and falling US import prices just weren't there to throw a damper on things...
Asian markets rose on the heels of Wednesday's gains in the Dow, and after what was a fairly unequivocal Fed signal that the bottom of the economic barrel has already been gouged, and that the next direction can only be up. Commodity-related bets blossomed overnight, as Asian speculators threw all kinds of money at firms involved with aluminium, copper, and coal production. Similar findings came in from Euroland this morning.
The string of conflicting statistics that is still being issued by various governments took a positive turn today. A surprise return to economic growth in Germany and France was seen in the numbers offered up today, literally just hours following reports that showed the region's economy still shrinking and lagging behind the US in its comeback.
So, we start the day with the matter of perspectives and glasses half-full and/or empty. Depending on one's view of the state of fullness of glass containers, one may throw short-term money at various assets. At least until the next batch of not-so-hot news hits the wires, or at least until the margin of profit becomes too enticing not to let go of a long position.
Speaking of glasses and liquids, dire conditions are developing in India as regards water. The next gold is white, and it flows. Satellite imagery confirmed that areas that are home to more than 100 million Indians are losing groundwater at a rate that could lead to potable water shortages and/or crop production problems sooner than anyone cares to believe. This, in a country where 75% of the surface waters are contaminated and unfit for essential use. Couple this with the weakest monsoon season in half a decade, and the framework of a crisis in the making, is quite complete. No one should underestimate the possible fallout from such a development.