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GOLD NEWS: Market Update Week Ending 23rd March 2012

Gold rises at end of week despite negative sentiment

Gold closed the week at $ 1661.30, a fraction better than last week’s closing level of $1659.30.

Though global economic news came in mixed this week, with the United States mixed, though more positive than elsewhere, sentiment seemed to turn against gold with the yellow metal hitting a ten-week low of $1628 on Thursday before recovering to post a modest gain on the week.

Poor manufacturing indicators from China and the Eurozone have confirmed announcements from both central banks that their economies are slowing down. Spain’s ability to avoid the need for bailout funds is being questioned as it has agreed a relaxation of deficit reduction targets, and in the UK a drop in retail sales has shown the consumer is weaker than previously thought.

Despite Spain’s latest measures in response to its debt and weakening economy, ECB President Mario Draghi has said this week that he believes the worst is over for the Eurozone countries, though he has admitted that risks remain.

In the United States, continuing improvement in the economic outlook was tempered somewhat this week. Although weekly jobless claims numbers fell to their lowest level for four years and the Conference Board’s leading indicators again rose strongly, house sales have been sluggish and falling.

Ben Bernanke, Fed Chairman, has said that ‘consumer spending is not yet recovered relative to where it was before the crisis’. This assessment is seen as non-inflationary, and negative for gold. Under this backdrop, US Treasury bond yields have continued to rise: a further negative for gold. However, the Fed Reserve Bank of St Louis President, James Bullard, gave impetus to the recovery in the gold price seen on Friday when he indicated that interest rates may need to rise earlier than 2014 as currently being signalled by the Fed.

Not helping gold this week has been the strike by India’s gold dealers protesting at last week’s doubling of import duty. This strike has lasted a week to date, and is estimated to have created a loss of $800 million of business.

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