Gold futures briefly fell through the $1,600 level on Wednesday after the Fed announced that they would extend its Operation Twist program from June through the end of 2012, swapping $267 billion of shorter-maturity debt for longer-dated debt, although not rolling out QE3. Gold futures retreated 0.46%. On Thursday, gold, stocks, commodities and the euro/dollar all reacted badly to the weak economic data from China, Europe and the US. Gold futures plunged 3.1% to $1,565.5, the S&P fell 2.2%, the Stoxx dropped 0.37%, the CRB Commodities Index fell 2.1%, while the euro/dollar sank 1.3%. The VIX surged 16.5% on Thursday to 20.08, returning to the level of May 9. Gold futures are now under water for the year, after falling 3.8% so far this week, the worst weekly performance since the week ending Dec. 16.
The market was reacting to the weaker economic growth data, and the likelihood of deflation, which would hurt gold price. The euro area "flash" manufacturing PMI fell from 45.1 in May to 44.8 this month, the lowest level in three years. The preliminary reading of the HSBC Chinese PMI index was 48 in June, the eighth month below the 50 level, which signals contraction. On Thursday, US initial unemployment claims were 387,000 in the week ending June 16, higher than the 383,000 level polled by Bloomberg. The Philly Fed Factory index plunged to -16.6, the lowest level since August, 2011. The US existing home sales also fell in May, confirming the lower revision by the Fed for growth in 2012, a higher revision of unemployment rate, and the extension of the Operation Twist program.
On a more positive note, Bank Rossii, the Central Bank of Russia, announced that it increased the gold reserves by 500,000 troy ounces during May. As of June 15, gold ETP holdings grew by 9 tonnes for the week to 2,413 tonnes, just 30 tonnes lower than the peak reached in mid-March, according to Barclays.
From the Fed's speech on June 20, and the MPC Minutes for the June 7 meeting, the central bankers stand ready to stimulate more should economic conditions deteriorate. In the case of the US, more easing or not will depend on the pace of job growth.
Next week, important events to watch will be the US durable goods order next Wednesday, the initial jobless claims next Thursday, and the June 28-29 EU Summit.