Market Recap 5/27/11

The European Union’s debilitating plague of a debt crisis continues to dominate news headlines this week. Italy was downgraded from an A+ to an A-, and while seemingly insignificant, this goes to show even further decay of Europe’s financial situation. As well as the fact that analysts at UniCredit downgraded the insurance sector and the basic-resources sector in Europe to neutral from overweight today, and the industrial goods and services to underweight from neutral. Last weekend, local elections in Spain rejected any move towards austerity measures. This week, the Greek public did the same. This week’s election result in upstate New York are an indication the U.S. may not be ready to experience the pain of cut-backs either.

China is rapidly closing in on India, as the world’s largest consumer of Gold. Although China is one of the leading producers of Gold, they cannot produce near enough to satisfy their appetite. Gold production should reach 400 tonnes by 2014 with a gain of 19%, but still the demand will be for 700 tonnes. In the first quarter of 2011, China bought more Gold than the combined totals of the developed Western Nations. Demand in France, Germany and Switzerland increased triple-digits, yet China outpaced them all put together. Despite this strong rise in per capita consumption, an analyst from Standard Chartered Bank said that there is still much room to grow, “In terms of Gold consumption per capita, there is no doubt that [China and India] have a lot of catch-up potential and the impact on Gold prices could be dramatic.”

The financial instability in the euro zone gave some stabilizing strength to the U.S. Dollar this week but the end result did little to curb people’s appetite for Gold. Adam Klopfenstein, a senior market strategist at Lind-Waldock in Chicago, says, “People see the whipsaw in the currencies market and they want to buy Gold and call it a day.” Most analysts would attribute this to Gold being historically less volatile. Gold is viewed as a means to protect wealth through portfolio diversification and asset allocation.

The U.S. GNP report was released this week and the U.S. economy grew less than expected in the 1st quarter…up only 1.8%. The weekly jobs report again indicated a surprising move upward.

As the week ends, international markets are focused on Greece while our thoughts are on the demise of the QE2 program. The U.S. Dollar Index was down almost 0.9% at mid-day today. Some analysts question if we will be heading toward a double dip recession. “…[W]e continue to expect a disappointing bounce back to just 3% growth in the second half of the year. The slow-down feels very similar to last year’s soft patch,” according to economist Ethan Harris. Will the fragile U.S. economy be able to make a significant move upward in the next 3-5 years?

Spot Gold prices opened this week at $1,515.10. The high during the week was on Friday, May 27th, at $1,539.50, while the low for the week occurred on Monday, May 23rd, at $1,503.70. Gold ended the week up $23.00 at $1,538.10. This week, the most popular Gold bullion products were 2011 Gold American Eagles, 1 oz. Pamp Suisse Gold Bars, and 2011 1 oz. Gold Maple Leafs.

Spot Silver prices opened this week at $35.17. Silver reached a high of $38.85 on Thursday, May 26th, while this week’s low for Silver occurred on Monday, May 23rd, at $34.34. Silver ended the week up up $2.95 at $38.12. The most popular Silver products on this week were 2011 Silver American Eagles, 2011 Silver Maple Leafs, 1 oz. Silver Buffalo Rounds and 10 oz. APMEX Silver Bars.

Spot Platinum prices opened this week at $1,774.90 and ended the week up $31.20 at $1,806.10. Popular Platinum products this week included, 1 oz. Platinum Bars, 1/10 oz. Platinum American Eagles, and 1 oz. Platinum American Eagles.

Spot Palladium prices opened this week at $739.60 and ended the week up $24.90 at $764.50. Palladium investors preferred 1 oz. Pamp Suisse Palladium Bars and Palladium Canadian Maple Leafs this week at

APMEX Product of the Week: 40% Silver Coin Bags

Today, a popular and convenient way of investing in precious metals is purchasing bags of U.S. Silver coins containing 40% Silver. As the price of Silver began to increase in the 1960s, the U.S. Government began seeking a more cost-effective alternative to the minting of 90% Silver content coins. In honor of the assassinated President Kennedy, the U.S. Mint began minting half-dollars depicting Kennedy that were 40% Silver instead of 90%. The Kennedy half-dollars consisted of an inner layer containing 79% copper and 21% Silver. This inner layer was clad by an outer layer of 20% copper and 80% Silver. Thus, rather than containing 90% Silver, the Kennedy halves contained a total of 40% Silver and 60% copper.

These 40% Silver Kennedy half-dollars were the last regularly-circulated coins from the U.S. Mint that still contained Silver. Extremely popular among Americans interested in collecting a memento of President Kennedy, the coins quickly disappeared from circulation after their release. Even after the U.S. Mint increased the production of the coins, the Kennedy half-dollar still remained more of a collector’s item than a widely-circulated coin. While the Kennedy halves are still available from the U.S. Mint, the coins continue to have a limited circulation and primarily meet the demands of collectors.

For investors, $1,000 and $500 face value bags of 40% Silver Kennedy halves minted between 1965 and 1969 are convenient and easy ways to own Silver. Not only are 40% Silver coins legal tender that will never lose their face value, but they are also Silver coins that do not have the high premiums associated with one-ounce Silver bullion coins, such as the Silver American Eagle coins. Unlike many other methods of investing in precious metals, buying 40% Silver bags is extremely versatile. Investors who buy Silver bags can trade the bags in units or sell and trade the coins individually.

If you are looking to purchase Silver in the most cost-efficient way, the 40% Silver coins from APMEX are a great option. APMEX makes it easy to buy Silver by offering competitive Silver prices on all Silver products.