- The best performing metal this week was palladium, up 3.63 percent as hedge funds boosted the net-long position to the most bullish in five weeks, CFTC data showed for early January. Gold traders and analysts remain bullish on the yellow metal for the 13th straight week, even as gold fell on a stronger dollar and weaker demand from Asia during Lunar New Year, according to the weekly Bloomberg survey. Neutral sentiment was the strongest in four weeks, but bullish respondents say gold will likely recover next week after investors in China return from the holidays. The Bullion Vault gold index, measuring the balance of buyers against sellers of gold, jumped to 52.6 in January, up from 51.8 in December. Bloomberg reports that this is the first increase in the index in six months.
- The Perth Mint reported strong sales figures last month; 31,189 ounces of gold coins and bars were sold in January, up from 29,186 in December. Silver sales were also up significantly 828,854 ounces last month versus 692, 971 ounces in December. In a reversal from last weeks selling of gold, Turkeys central bank gold holdings rose $705 million this week from the prior period, according to official weekly figures from the bank in Ankara.
- Gold Fields Granny Smith gold mine in Western Australia is going to install one of the worlds largest renewable energy micro grids powered by solar panels and a battery system, according to a release by the company. Gold Fields has partnered with power company Aggreko to operate the renewable energy system. Managing Director of Aggreko George Whyte says that the system is projected to reduce fuel consumption by 10 to 13 percent, which is the equivalent of removing 2,000 cars from the road.
· The worst performing metal this week was platinum, down 2.84 percent, moving inversely to palladium where demand for the metal is outstripping production. Gold is set for its first weekly drop in three weeks after the dollar strengthened and holdings in metal ETFs fell, reports Bloomberg. Precious metals ETFs saw $709 million of outflows, down from $755 million of inflows last week. The yellow metal also saw thin trading this week due to Chinese investors being out for the week due to Lunar New Year celebrations.
· Reuters reports that scrap gold supplies in India may increase this quarter due to a rally in prices leading consumers to sell old trinkets and jewelry. India, the worlds second largest consumer of gold, could see scrap supplies rise above 25 tons in the first quarter, up from 14.1 tons during the same period a year ago.
· Venezuelan opposition lawmaker Carlos Paparoni said at a press conference this week that the countrys central bank sold 73 tons of gold in 2018 to Turkish and UAE based companies, writes Bloombergs Alex Vasquez. The Venezuelan government attempted to move funds from Portuguese accounts to Uruguay this week, but it was blocked due to cooperation by Portugals central bank and opposition leaders in Venezuela. In another blow to the troubled nation, the Bank of England is said to have frozen its gold assets worth $1.56 billion, according to Business Insider.
· Central banks bought 651.1 tons of gold last year, the second highest annual total on record and up 74 percent from the year earlier, according to the World Gold Council. Goldman Sachs predicts that central banks will continue to be big purchasers of gold in 2019 due to elevated geopolitical tensions and less pressure on emerging market currencies. A model the company uses shows that central banks will purchase around 650 tons of the yellow metal this year the same level as 2018. Many central banks could be purchasing gold on concerns that the U.S. is using the dollar to exert its dominance on the global financial system, writes the New York Times. Azerbaijans sovereign wealth fund is looking to nearly double its holdings of gold in 2019 to 100 tons, just after going five years without buying any prior to last year. Executive Director Shahmar Movsumov said in an interview that we would not want to have something that is not someone elses credit risk.
· Investec Securities compiled a list of their takeaways from the 2019 Mining Indaba roundtable discussion on palladium. They write that the discussion highlighted how the palladium deficit will likely continue even if China slows down, that there is still no substitution for palladium, that future recycling volumes may not be excessively high and that a new supply is still a few years away. Palladium has been strong so far this year and its price has also been higher than that of gold since early January.
· Bellevue Gold announced a resource upgrade at the Bellevue surrounds project in Australia. The total inferred resources increased by 47 percent to 1.53Moz at 11.8 grams per ton, which is very high-grade. The company also believes that there is significant scope for further expansion. Bloomberg reports that Barrick Gold will be increasing its stake in Reunion Gold to 19.9 percent, up from 15 percent, as the miners form a joint venture to explore, develop and mine certain mineral projects in the Guiana Shield. Mark Bristow, Barrick Golds CEO is very familiar with geologic environment of these greenstone belts in Guiana Shield which were once connected to the West African craton where Randgold achieved great success in growing their company.
· Bloomberg reports that two months after Venezuela President Nicolas Madura met with President Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, a mysterious company was formed named Sardes. By November last year when the U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuelan gold, Sardes had moved $900 million of gold out of the South American nation. This shows that Turkey may no longer be a strong ally to the U.S., as this is not the first time that Turkey has been a work-around for countries facing U.S. sanctions.
· A growing number of bank analysts are predicting the U.S. dollar will fall soon, however, traders and the market disagree. The dollar has strengthened almost 1 percent since the dovish comments from the Federal Reserve meeting in January and the outlook for the currency is getting stronger based on the options market, writes Bloomberg. Georgette Boele, a currency and commodity strategist at ABN Amro Bank NV, said those who are negative on the dollar may need to have patience.
· UBS Financial Services agreed to pay Virginias State Corporation Commission $319,000 to settle charges that a former broker made unsuitable recommendations of gold and precious metals securities to 18 clients, reports Investment News. The state alleged that the clients held an overconcentration and that the securities were not appropriate to certain clients goals. Is this regulatory bias against the gold space? Would there be an investigation into having too much Apple stock in a clients portfolio?