Compiled 02/16/12 6:00 AM (CT) Statistics: London Gold Fix $1,716.00 -$9.50 LME Copper Stocks 311,125 tons -1,925 tons GOLD MARKET FUNDAMENTALS: (6:00 AM CST) In addition to slowing concerns from both China and the Euro zone, it is possible that gold and the metals markets are seeing some residual pressure from news that the FOMC in their meeting minutes yesterday were deeply divided on the issue of QE3. While the BOJ and BOE are clearly leaning toward more easing ahead, the US Fed doesn't appear to be firmly rooted in that camp just yet. Gold might be seeing minimal support from news of lower 4th quarter gold production from African Barrick overnight, but that talk might have been more than offset by predictions from a World Gold Council official, that Indian 2012 gold imports could be roughly equal to 2011 gold imports. However, the WGC also predicted that China might become the world's largest gold consumer in 2012 and that might serve to mitigate the slack Indian gold import news. On the other hand, the trade seems downbeat toward Chinese economic prospects in the wake of soft trade figures that were released overnight. In short, it appears as if the gold market is embracing slack demand views overnight and the bull camp is probably in need of distinctly positive US scheduled data flows today and or something definitively positive from the Euro zone rumor mill. In fact, outside market forces like currency and equity market action would seem to give the bear camp in gold an initial edge and that could raise the importance of the US data flows. Comex Gold Stocks were 11.435 million ounces down 33 ounces. Stocks have declined 11 of the last 20 days. OUTSIDE MARKET DEVELOPMENTS: (6:00 AM CST) Asian equity markets were weaker overnight off news that Chinese trade numbers might signal further slowing. European equity markets were also lower because of weaker growth forecasts and lingering fears over Greece. Surprisingly, the European markets were not cheered by slightly lower debt yields overnight or by talk that there will be a decision on the next Greek bailout by Monday. Early US stock market action was weaker, as US economic data this week has been uninspiring. In looking forward to the US trade today, the market will see another active slate of economic news, with US Housing starts and permits potentially the main feature of the Thursday US trade. However, the metals markets usually pay some attention to inflation figures from the PPI, which are expected to post minimal gains. The metals trade will also take some direction from US initial claims and ongoing claims figures, which are expected to show some minor declines.