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 SILVER MARKET FUNDAMENTALS: (6:00 AM CT) Like gold, the silver market has started the Thursday US trade out on a weaker footing and in the process the March silver contract has reached the lowest price level since January 31st. In addition to renewed fears of slowing from Chinese trade figures overnight, the markets also seem to be a little disappointed with recent US economic data flows. Some traders think that silver has largely remained out of favor over the last year because of the lack of Chinese silver imports and therefore it is clear that silver demand is generally being viewed as a bearish element in the market. It is also possible that silver and other physical commodity markets are seeing some minor pressure today as a result of FOMC meeting minutes that were released yesterday afternoon as those notes showed conflict/debate within the US Fed. Therefore the silver market is probably going to take some direction from US scheduled data this morning, but it is unclear whether the market will be able to shift back into a risk on posture off the type of data scheduled to be released this morning. However, the bull camp might suggest that silver is less vulnerable to long liquidation than gold, because the most recent COT positioning report placed the spec long in silver at a very modest level. Comex Silver Stocks were 129.325 million ounces down 78,184 ounces. Silver stocks have increased in 12 of the last 20 days. OUTSIDE MARKET DEVELOPMENTS: (6:00 AM CT) 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.