by John Foster. Email John.
FED MINUTES MOVE THE MARKETS:
The major news of the week was the release of minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee meeting. There was little discussion of any plans for future quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve. Stocks and commodities — including precious metals — experienced a significant selloff, with prices for Gold and Silver dropping to levels not seen since mid-January, making both metals particularly attractive from a physical demand perspective. However, some analysts are saying that the Fed’s current policy can still support Gold prices, even without more easing. In a recent report, James Steel of banking giant HSBC said, “Policy is already ultra-accommodative by conventional monetary standards, and therefore Gold-friendly. This may be overlooked or underestimated in the current sell-off, we believe.”
SPAIN THE NEW GREECE?
The euro is feeling the effect of Spain’s debt crisis, which is not being fully contained at the same time borrowing costs are on the rise. “We haven’t seen any major improvements in the European debt situation,” said Marito Ueda, senior managing director in Tokyo at FX Prime Corp. (8711), a currency-margin company. “After Greece, investors may be beginning to shift their focus onto countries like Spain, Portugal and Italy. I expect the euro will gradually sink as the region’s economy deteriorates.” In Spain, last week’s budget announcements coupled with the release of less-than-stellar debt-to-GDP ratio have a number of investors concerned, as the levels are well in excess of previous estimates. This is the highest debt level in 22 years. Last year, the debt-to-GDP ratio was 68.5 percent, while this year it has climbed to 79.8 percent. Although this ratio is less than the European Union average, it is still quite high and climbing. Continue reading