Yesterday's anemic trading patterns appeared to roll over into this morning's markets as price tickers across various assets showed little in the way of change. Despite more dovish-than-expected initial Congressional testimony by Ben Bernanke, the dollar managed a climb against the euro - a near half-percent one, at that.

Crude oil vales slipped for the first time in six trading sessions, but black gold still finds itself at very near $65 per barrel amid fundamental background conditions that do not warrant such a premium. In any case, the higher dollar/ lower oil mix resulted in the expected outcome as regards gold prices: they slipped to just under $945 overnight - not a major turn, but still some $10 blow recent breakout attempt peaks.

New York precious metals dealings started the midweek session in the red this morning, with gold off by $2.80 per ounce, at $946.20, silver at $13.40 (down 0.12), and platinum at $1163.00 (down $7) respectively. Palladium opened at $252 per ounce, losing $2. Chrysler's new parent-to-be, FIAT, swung to a second quarter of losses as slumping truck sales took their toll. Market players appeared to be waiting for the next Starbucks run while digesting important news such as the total solar eclipse that took place overnight in Asia.

The trade-weighted index showed the US dollar virtually stalled at $78.80 (off by 0.10), while oil was losing nearly $1 per barrel, and dropping to the $64.70 level. The virtual grinding to a halt in speculative activity over the past couple of days might well result in a larger-than-expected move in one of these sectors. Hopefully, no nasty surprises lie in store. Once again, the gold ETF shed a few tonnes from its sizeable holdings, with yesterday's 68,481 ounce outflow. Gold remains within the range, and will silently follow dollar and oil developments as it lacks internal dynamics that would make it headline material at the moment.

For a person who has had more than his fair share of vilification over the past couple of years, Mr. Bernanke is apparently receiving some very high marks - from some of the very sources of the negative noise. About 75% (!) of surveyed global investors approve of his handling of the crisis and have a favorable view of him (with the 25% silent remainder, evidently made up of hard-money newsletter vendors, whose evaluation of the man consists of words we cannot mention here, in print).

One of the take-home lessons from yesterday's Bernanke testimony is that the man charged Congress to go and do its own share of work in ameliorating the current situation, by aggressively cutting budget deficits. Some of this posturing - including the tacit references to how the Fed helped pull the economy from the brink of the abyss- were colored by political overtones, and by the awareness that Mr. B.B.'s term is up for grabs/renewal come January. Nevertheless, the Fed Head is likely to stand firm on certain issues and will continue to square of on Fed independence issues with the likes of Rep. Ron Paul (R, Texas) as he takes the hot seat again this morning. And, yes, items like consumer protection powers might be lost in the battle. But, not- it seems- much else.

Stay tuned to the testimony on the Hill, watch the profit-taking in oil for sustainability, and try to find something interesting to write, on this once again slow news day.

Happy Wednesday to All,