Pressure on Central Banks Good for Gold Prices as ECB Urged to Use Bazooka

Gold Prices traded just below $1690 per ounce Monday morning in London, close to five month highs hit after Friday’s speech by US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, in which he noted the US economic situation is “far from satisfactory”.

“Central banks are still hurtling towards more cash-printing,” one Hong Kong dealer told newswire Reuters Monday.

“They are under pressure to be doing something actively, which is good for gold.”

“Gold has broken through the topside of a large triangle pattern which had resistance at $1655,” adds the latest technical analysis from bullion bank Scotia Mocatta.

“The next resistance is the $1790 high from March.”

On the gold futures and options market, the so-called speculative net long – defined as the difference between bullish and bearish contracts held by non-bullion industry traders – rose to its highest level since early March last Tuesday, according to weekly figures published each Friday by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Monday morning’s AM Gold Fix in London – which acts as a reference and clearing price for the professional bullion market – put the Euro price of gold at €1341.72 per ounce, the highest Euro fix price since 12 September 2011.

Euro Gold Prices breached €1340 per ounce on four trading days in September last year, which also saw record-high prices for US Dollar and UK Sterling investors.

Silver meantime hit $31.94 per ounce this morning – its highest level since April – while stock markets edged higher, with the exception of Spain’s Ibex.

European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi is due to appear before the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs Monday to discuss the creation of a so-called banking union among Eurozone members.

The European Commission last week said it will recommend giving the ECB supervisory powers over all Eurozone banks, of which there are approximately 6000. German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has argued that only the largest banks should be subject to a supranational regulator.

“If the German position prevails,” writes Wolfgang Munchau in the Financial Times, “the project of a banking union will have irrevocably failed…the Eurozone will remain a monetary union with nationally supervised and crisis-prone banks for the foreseeable future.”

The ECB should give a “credible signal” to markets that it will do what is necessary to contain sovereign borrowing costs when it makes its latest policy announcement this Thursday, the head of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Angel Gurria said Sunday.

“The ECB is the bazooka, the firepower, the muscle, the one that has the capacity to impress upon the markets and say: yes we will,” said Gurria.

The ECB has faced opposition to the idea of bond market intervention from some German policymakers, while it was reported last week that Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann has considered resigning.

Draghi responded last week by insisting that “exceptional measures” may be required to fulfill the ECB’s mandate.

“Draghi’s announcement of intervention shows the robust will of the ECB to solve the problem,” said Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy in a press interview published over the weekend.

Benchmark yields on Spanish 10-Year bonds fell as low as 6.2% last month, having hit a Euro-era high of 7.7% in July, although they have crept higher since, hitting 6.9% this morning.

“The market is expecting a lot from the ECB,” says Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist Gustavo Reis.

“However, we [expect] little clarification on the bond-buying program. The likely market disappointment should intensify the pressure on Spain.”

Spain’s manufacturing sector, continued to contract last month, though at a slower rate than in July, according to purchasing managers index data published Monday.

PMI data for German manufacturing also suggest the sector shrank at a slower rate last month. The opposite was true for the Eurozone as a whole however, with manufacturing activity falling at a faster rate in August than a month earlier, according to PMI data.

Over in China, one of the world’s top two Gold Buying nations, official August PMI data published Saturday indicate reduced manufacturing activity for the first time since last November. HSBC’s alternative PMI measure, which focuses on smaller firms, also suggested manufacturing contracted last month.

Sales of Gold Coins by the US Mint meantime recorded their worst August since 2007, US Mint data show.

In South Africa, around 12,000 miners have been on strike since Wednesday at the KDC Gold Mine, operated by South African-listed Gold Fields.

“It appears that the strike is the result of an internal dispute between the local branch leadership of the National Union of Mineworkers and certain employee groupings within the NUM membership, who are demanding the resignation and replacement of local NUM branch office bearers,” says a statement from Gold Fields.

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