Precious Metals

Gold took a big hit mid-week when the US Federal Reserve suggested an end to quantitative easing, but the precious metal rallied on Thursday to regain some of the lost ground.

Gold recovered to some extent on Thursday after having a horrendous day on Wednesday due to signals from the US Federal Reserve that quantitative easing (QE) in the United States could come to end as early as March. 

Minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee meeting show that some members of the central bank want to reduce, or even end, the asset-purchase program before the stated goal of 6.5 percent unemployment is reached. Improved economic conditions in the US were cited as the reason for potentially pulling the plug on the program, which injects $85 billion per month into the US economy through the central bank’s purchase of Treasury securities and mortgage bonds.

That sent gold reeling to a seven and a half-month low, with spot gold plunging $44.90 to finish at $1,560 on Wednesday. The Fed signal pushed other metals down as well, including silver, which lost a buck, nickel and copper, which hit a 2013 low on Thursday after China said it is considering a property tax to curb a sharp rise in house prices. Global stock markets were also hammered by the Fed news, with investors piling out of equities on the assumption that economic growth could slow without further stimulus measures.

Gold observers were quick to remind investors on Wednesday that gold’s trend line is discouraging to say the least, with its 50-day moving average dropping below its 200-day moving average — a technical trading phenomenon known as the “death cross.”

Gold’s selloff on Wednesday, however, was tempered on Thursday by some short covering and bargain hunting by bullion traders, and that sent the yellow metal climbing in value — though gains were restricted by mounting strength in the US dollar.

At the close of the session, April COMEX gold was up a paltry 70 cents, at $1,578 an ounce, while spot gold was last quoted up $15.10 at $1,580.

Media reports following the Fed news on Wednesday suggest that the market overreacted as there has been no consensus among central bank members as to when to end QE. Marketwatch reported the president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank as saying that QE will be required well into the second half of the year. ”We need powerful and continuing monetary accommodation,” John Williams said. “Unemployment is far too high and inflation is too low.”

Economists at CIBC World Markets noted in a bearish report released Thursday that there is no threat of inflation on the horizon in the United States or elsewhere. Low inflation would signal stagnant or lower gold prices. The Globe and Mail reported Avery Shenfeld and Emanuella Enenajor as stating that “[g]old will have its day in the sun at other points down the road, but the clouds on the horizon could portend still lower gold prices over the next couple of years,” in a report titled “Why gold’s lustre will fade.”

Company news

Centerra Gold (TSX:CG) said this week that it posted a net of loss of $68 million, or 29 cents per share, in the fourth quarter. The loss came about due to an $180.7-million accounting charge for “de-recognition of the underground assets” at its Kumtor mine, Centerra stated in a news release. The Canadian company has been at odds over the mine with the Kyrgyzstan government, which accuses it of damaging the environment and stealing the country’s riches. On Thursday, the country’s parliament gave the government three months to either renegotiate the terms of an agreement signed with Centerra in 2009 or cancel it unilaterally if no compromise is reached, Reuters reported.

Yamana Gold (TSX:YRI,NYSE:AUY) was up 5 percent in Toronto on Thursday after posting record revenues and mine operating earnings due to increased production in 2012. Toronto-based Yamana, with gold mines in Mexico and South America, nearly doubled its quarterly earnings, from 12 cents a share in Q4 2011 to 22 cents per share in Q4 2012. It also said it expects a 20-percent increase in production this year.

Polymetal (LSE:POLY), a Russian precious metals miner, will pay $95.5 million for the Maminskoye gold deposit in Russia, Reuters reported. “The current size of the (deposit’s) resource base is not very large, but we are optimistic about its exploration potential,” Vitaly Nesis, Polymetal’s chief executive, said in a statement.

Zinc producer Kazzinc and Verny Capital have purchased two gold deposits in Northern Kazakhstan worth an estimated $200 million. The deposits have combined reserves of about 70 tonnes.

Xstrata’s (LSE:XTA) massive Tampakan mine was granted an environmental compliance certificate this week by the Philippines government. The permit removes a key hurdle delaying work on the $5.9-billion copper-gold project, which has been held up by an open-pit mining ban imposed in 2010 by the provincial government of South Cotabato.

Drill manufacturer Boart Longyear (ASX:BLY) has appointed Richard O’Brien to replace Craig Kipp as CEO. O’Brien is the former CEO of Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM,TSX:NMC). Kipp announced his resignation in October of last year.

Junior company news

Junior gold explorer Golden Predator (TSX:GPD) joined the likes of Franco-Nevada (TSX:FNV,NYSE:FNV) this week by shifting focus to become a gold royalty company. The company’s exploration targets in the Yukon will be rolled into a separate company, Golden Predator Canada, while its royalties portfolio, centered in Nevada, will be held in a new company called Americas Bullion Royalty (TSX:AMB).

Northern Freegold Resources (TSXV:NFRreleased a preliminary economic assessment for the Nucleus and Revenue deposits at its Freegold Mountain project in the Yukon, Canada. The mine should produce 150,000 ounces of gold, 355,000 ounces of silver, 17.3 million pounds of copper and 4.2 million pounds of molybdenum over an 11-year life.

Premium Exploration (TSXV:PEMreported results from the RC drill hole completed in December 2012 at the Friday Zone on its Idaho gold project. Hole PFR2012-1 returned 1.11 g/t gold over 111.25 meters within 0.57 g/t gold over 304.80 meters. The RC drill hole tested the viability of using reverse circulation drilling in an effort to reduce the cost of the infill program for the resource.

TomaGold (TSXV:LOTannounced results from the three first holes of the 2,500-meter drilling program at its Monster Lake property, located southwest of Chibougamau, Quebec. “This major discovery will take our assessment to a whole new level at Monster Lake, which has never been drilled to a depth of more than 125 metres. These holes show that the 325 Zone has promising gold potential at depth,” said TomaGold’s president and CEO, David Grondin.


Securities Disclosure: I, Andrew Topf, do not hold equity interests in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

Related reading: 

Warnings of Gold’s Death Cross Growing Louder


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