Weekly Gold & Silver Market Recap for March 22nd, 2013

GOLD PRICES REACT TO CYPRUS BAILOUT

The tiny European island nation of Cyprus dominated many of the financial headlines this week, and as of today there has been no resolution to the country’s financial crisis. Cyprus is in the midst of a financial collapse and is in dire need of aid from larger international banks. The European Union has stepped up and is willing to assist in financing a bailout plan. However, the EU is requiring that Cyprus pay back part of the loan with a tax on bank deposits. Ilya Spivak, currency strategist at DailyFX said the Cyprus bailout plan “has pushed the euro sharply lower at the start of the trading week amid rising fears of mass capital flight.” He continues on to say that investors across the zone could scramble to move their capital out of the region. The easing proposal was met with much resistance by the government of Cyprus. “At this point in time, we are saying [to international lenders] that if you think that by doing this you are fixing things, by actually destroying our economy and one of the biggest and strongest financial sectors we had on this island, then we have to say ‘no’,” said Efi Xanthou, international relations secretary of the Cyprus Green Party. As of today Cypriot lawmakers are voting today on bills that would strike a deal with European partners after talks with Russia fell apart. The controversial tax on bank deposits is the key issue that parliament will debate. Banks in Cyprus reopen on Tuesday, and there is a real concern that capital will begin to flow out of the beleaguered country. The European Union issued the Cypriot parliament an ultimatum saying they need to raise 5.8 billion euros by Monday to receive their bailout package. Without the deal, Cypriot banks will be cut off from the liquidity of the European Central Bank. Bill Blain, senior fixed income broker at Mint Partners, said “Cyprus could be let go if they don’t come up with a robust enough package. If they come up with something half-baked, that will be rejected and they will be let go. If they come up with something that clearly cuts higher deposits and puts money back into the banks and go about bank restructuring, that may work.” The Gold price has been rising as the trouble in Cyprus unfolds. Safe haven buying prompted investors to push the Precious Metal to as high as $1,616.36 an ounce in overnight trading. When priced against the euro, Gold is up 2.6 percent so far this week.

UNITED STATES FEDERAL RESERVE NOTES

On Tuesday the latest policy meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee began. HSBC said in a note, “(We) expect the FOMC to reaffirm its commitment to the current quantitative easing policy and to offer no hint that it will alter the policy in the near term … Uncertainties surrounding the potential withdraw of QE contributed to Gold’s sell-off earlier this year. Given this, clarity on the FOMC’s QE exit strategy may help ease such concerns and lend support to Gold.” Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke promised to uphold the Fed’s $85 billion in monthly bond purchases on Wednesday. Few are surprised by the Fed’s announcement as the current unemployment rate of 7.7 percent is still far from the 6.5 percent target. Bernanke has committed to maintain the current stimulus program until the U.S. jobless rate has reached the desired target. Some Federal Reserve officials have been open critics of the need for a continuation of such aggressive monetary policy, but the majority of members still see the current easing measures as necessary to impel U.S. economic recovery. Bernanke noted that a scale down of the quantitative easing (QE) program is far from imminent as officials predict desired levels of unemployment will not be reached until at least 2015. On Thursday morning the United States jobless claims report was released. While the claims did move up, the move was not as much as anticipated. Analysts had expected a rise of about 10,000 claims; in reality it was closer to 2,000 claims. This report lends cause for the U.S. Federal Reserve to keep pushing forward with its monetary easing plans. “Gold is positively reacting to the Fed saying that quantitative easing will not end any time soon and there is also uncertainty of what is going on in Cyprus,” Saxo Bank senior manager Ole Hansen said. Gold has reacted positively when easing is in play and today is no different.

At 4:00 p.m. (EDT), the APMEX Precious Metals spot prices were:

Gold, $1,610.10, Down $6.20.
Silver, $28.79, Down $0.50.
Platinum, $1,585.70, Up $3.60.
Palladium, $759.50, Up $3.60.