Recent optimism "making gold's safe haven properties redundant"

U.S. dollar gold prices fell to a one-week low Monday morning in London, dropping to $1,660 per ounce, as dealers in Asia reported quiet trading, with China celebrating the Lunar New Year holiday.

"We are neutral [on gold] until the current consolidation resolves itself," says the latest technical analysis report from bullion bank Scotia Mocatta.

Silver fell to $31.27 an ounce — its lowest level in nearly two weeks — while stocks were broadly flat and commodities edged lower as the Dollar strengthened.

Over in India, traditionally the world's biggest source of private gold demand, "not many deals are happening as the Rupee depreciated on opening and gold is holding steady," one dealer in Mumbai told newswire Reuters this morning.

"I don't think there are many other influences in the market, certainly in the Asian market anyway, beyond currencies right now," says Nick Trevethan, Singapore-based senior metals strategist at ANZ. "I think it's very much going to be the case of watching the Dollar Index."

The U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the dollar's strength against a basket of other currencies, rose to a one-month high this morning, while the euro hovered near two-week lows.

Since the start of February, the euro has fallen more than 2%, though it remains 2.9% up on its low from the first week of January. Major stock markets are also up on the year so far, with the S&P 500 up more than 6%.

"Gold's correlation with the Euro-Dollar has been hovering close to zero recently, a stark contrast to the stable, strongly positive relationship experienced for most of last year," says a note from UBS. "The relationship between gold and equities has similarly eased...this suggests that gold's safe-haven properties are currently considered more dominant, and as such gold is considerably lagging the move in equities as its defensive characteristics become redundant in a more optimistic view of the world."

European Central Bank Executive Board member Joerg Asmussen has rejected calls from France for a euro exchange rate target.

"The core of the problem lies inside the country and not in the foreign exchange rate," Asmussen told German newspaper Handelsblatt over the weekend. "I am glad that the French government has made increasing competitiveness into its central topic."

Elsewhere in Europe, uninsured depositors in Cyprus could be forced to take losses along with holders of the country's sovereign debt as part of a proposed rescue package, the Financial Times reports.

The FT cites a confidential memorandum prepared ahead of today's meeting of Eurozone finance ministers, who have set themselves a deadline of next month to agree a rescue plan for Cyprus.

Under the plan, which does not currently have any official backing, Cyprus's bailout would be reduced from €16.7 billion to €5.5 billion by imposing losses on bond holders and foreign depositors.

Earlier this month, several German politicians expressed concern at the idea of bailing out Cyprus without introducing more effective anti-money laundering controls.

Over in Greece, the government cut tax receipts and public investments last month in response to falling tax revenues in order to meet budget targets, Athens announced Monday.

Russia meantime has added more gold to its official reserves than any other nation over the past ten years, according to International Monetary Fund data cited by news agency Bloomberg this morning.

The Swiss franc remains overvalued against the euro, Swiss National Bank governing board member Fritz Zurbruegg says in an interview published by the Aargauer Zeitung Monday.

The SNB has pegged the exchange rate at SFr1.20 per euro since September 2011, promising to print currency in whatever quantity needed to maintain the peg.

"[The peg] remains the appropriate instrument for achieving price stability in Switzerland for the foreseeable future," says Zurbruegg. "If necessary we are ready to take further steps."

The so-called speculative net long position of Comex gold futures and options traders rose in the week ended last Tuesday, having hit its lowest reported level for six months the previous week, data published Friday by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission show.

The spec net long measures the number of bullish minus bearish contracts held by traders classified as noncommercial, such as hedge funds.

About the Author
Ben Traynor

Editor of Gold News, the analysis and investment research site from world-leading gold ownership service BullionVaultBen Traynor was formerly editor of the Fleet Street Letter, the UK's longest-running investment letter. A Cambridge economics graduate, he is a professional writer and editor with a specialist interest in monetary economics.

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