Gold price falls due to stronger dollar and rates speculation

Industry analysts predict further drops in the run-up to next month’s meeting of the Federal Reserve

Half of Gold Output May Not Be ‘Viable’ as Price Sags: Randgold



USD/t oz. 1,056.40 -13.30 -1.24% FEB 16 11:20:11
JPY/g 4,148.00

Gold prices fell yesterday in response to the dollar’s bounce after healthy US economic data raised expectations of an interest rate rise next month.

Prices hovered just above their lowest level in nearly six years, as spot gold fell 0.4 per cent to $1,070.46 an ounce, perilously close to the near-six-year low of $1,064.95 it hit last week.

The latest drop came after it was announced that manufacturing output rose well above economists’ expectations last month. A gauge of business investment plans in America also painted an optimistic picture.

“The orders number is surprisingly positive and that’s what’s weighing on the market,” Rob Haworth, the senior investment strategist for US Bank Wealth Management in Seattle, told Reuters.

Gold has been put under pressure by increasing speculation that the Federal Reserve will raise US rates next month for the first time in nearly a decade. Such a move would increase the cost of holding non-yielding bullion, having a knock-on effect on prices.

But Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann said geo-political issues had played a part and predicted further falls for the precious metal. “The Turkey-Russia tension has only had a limited impact and now gold is back on its downward trend mainly due to the dollar and rate hike expectations,” he said.

“Uncertainty before the next Fed meeting will remain high and prices could head even lower in the next couple of weeks.”

Traders said dealings were relatively quiet ahead of America’s Thanksgiving holiday today.

Gold price resumes downward trend

23 November

With speculation mounting over a possible Federal Reserve interest rate rise over the next few weeks, the gold price has resumed its downward trend after a brief rally at the end of last week.

Having fallen as low as $1,062 an ounce during trading last Wednesday, gold rallied on Thursday and was at one point a few dollars above $1,080. But after a dip back to below this level on Friday, the precious metal dropped again to below $1,070 in Asia overnight, where it remains rooted this morning.

Gold has fallen for 13 consecutive trading days out of 16 in Asia, while for each of the last five weeks in both London and New York it has closed lower than it started. The precious metal’s short-lived recovery last week now appears to be little more than a relief rally in a bear market.

The latest fall follows comments on Saturday from San Francisco Federal Reserve chief John Williams, who the Wall Street Journal reckons is a good barometer of wider monetary policy opinion. Williams says that if nothing happens to derail current economic trends, “there’s a strong case to be made in December to raise rates”.

Rate rises hurt gold and other non-yielding commodities relative to income-generating assets. More importantly, Williams’s statement has boosted the dollar – against which gold is typically held as a hedge – to a seven-month high.

Where is the gold price likely to go from here? OCBC Bank analyst Barnabas Gan has told Reuters that the current price ­– in fact any price around $1,080 – indicates that investors are “sitting on the fence as they await the [Fed] meeting in December”. As a result, he believes the downward trend in the price of gold is likely to persist over the next couple of weeks.

Almost all traders appear to be united in their view that the gold price will fall further if the Fed does decide to raise rates in the forthcoming weeks. Even Jason Hamlin, a self-designated “gold stock bull” who reckons that gold is currently “oversold”, writes on Seeking Alpha, the financial website, that the recent price drop is a sign that the metal “will test $1,000 in the near future”.

Hamlin says that if support for gold holds up in the event that the Fed decides to keep rates as they are – or makes it clear that the rates rise is a “one and done” increase (i.e. a modest rise that will be the last for some time) – then it is not unthinkable that a rally could push gold towards a substantially higher price of $1,200 an ounce.

Rangold Update

The more we continue to produce unprofitable gold, the more pressure we put on the gold price,” said Randgold Resources Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow. “In the medium term, it’s a very bullish outlook for the gold industry. The question is, how long are we going to supply it with unprofitable gold?”

Gold fell to a five-year low on Friday as a rising dollar and speculation that U.S. policy makers will boost interest rates next month curbed the appeal of bullion as a store of value. While industrial metal producers have promised output cuts, “we don’t have that psyche in the gold industry, we just send it off our mine and somebody buys it,” Bristow said in an interview in Toronto.

Gold miners buffeted by the drop in prices are shortening the life of mines by focusing only on the best quality ore, a practice known as high grading, which will restrict future output and support higher prices, according to Bristow. He said in a presentation to bankers in Toronto that the industry life span is down to about five years because companies have been aggressively high grading at the expense of future production.

“The industry has moved away from looking at optimal life of mines because everyone is trying to demonstrate short-term delivery,” he said. “Where is all this value that people promised in the gold industry? It’s not there.”

Traditionally, the industry would address this through “survival consolidation and mergers,” Bristow said.

He said earlier this month that Randgold continues to look for projects to buy, but has been frustrated by companies excessively pricing assets.

London-listed Randgold’s 10-year annualized return of 19 percent is the best performance among major producers tracked by Bloomberg.

Gold futures for February delivery declined 1.2 percent to $1,056.60 at 10:12 a.m. on the Comex in New York. Earlier, the price fell to $1,051.60 an ounce, the lowest since February 2010.



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China Calm Shattered: Probe Sparks Selloff in Stocks

  • Citic Securities leads losses after revealing investigation
  • Industrial profits drop 4.6% in October as slowdown deepens


  • China’s stocks tumbled the most since the depths of a $5 trillion plunge in August as some of the nation’s largest brokerages disclosed regulatory probes, industrial profits fell and two more companies said they’re struggling to repay bonds.

    The Shanghai Composite Index sank 5.5 percent, with a gauge of volatility surging from the lowest level since March. Citic Securities Co. and Guosen Securities Co. plunged by the daily limit in Shanghai after saying they were under investigation for alleged rule violations. Haitong Securities Co., whose shares were suspended from trading, is also being probed. Industrial profits slid 4.6 percent last month, data showed Friday, compared with a 0.1 percent drop in September.

The probe into the finance industry comes as the government widens an anti-corruption campaign and seeks to assign blame for the selloff earlier this year. Authorities are testing the strength of a nascent bull market by lifting a freeze on initial public offerings and scrapping a rule requiring brokerages to hold net-long positions, just as the earliest indicators for November signal a deterioration in economic growth. A Chinese fertilizer maker and a pig iron producer became the latest companies to flag debt troubles after at least six defaults this year.

Brokerages Plunge

“The sharp decline will raise questions whether the authorities’ confidence that we are seeing stability in the Chinese markets may be a tad premature,” said Bernard Aw, a strategist at IG Asia Pte. in Singapore. “The rally since the August collapse was not fundamentally supported. The removal of restrictions for large brokers to sell and the IPO resumptions may not have been announced at an opportune time.”

Friday’s losses pared the Shanghai Composite’s gain since its Aug. 26 low to 17 percent. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index slid 2.5 percent in Hong Kong. The Hang Seng Index retreated 1.9 percent.

A gauge of financial shares on the CSI 300 slumped 5 percent. Citic Securities and Guosen Securities both dropped 10 percent. Haitong International Securities Group Ltd. slid 7.5 percent for the biggest decline since Aug. 24 in Hong Kong.

The finance crackdown has intensified in recent weeks and ensnared a prominent hedge-fund manager and a CSRC vice chairman. Citic Securities President Cheng Boming is among seven of the company’s executives named by Xinhua News Agency as being under investigation. Brokerage Guotai Junan International Holdings Ltd. said Monday it had lost contact with its chairman, spurring a 12 percent slump in the firm’s shares.

An industrial explosives maker will become the first IPO to be priced since the regulator lifted a five-month freeze on new share sales imposed during the height of the rout. Ten companies will market new shares next week. The final 28 IPOs under the existing online lottery system will probably tie up 3.4 trillion yuan ($532 billion), according to the median of six analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.



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Oil Prices May Plunge : ‘Super Contango’

It looks to be a volatile final few weeks for crude oil prices. So far, the low for WTI oil prices (WTI) in 2015 of $37.75 a barrel set in August stands as the low price point — but not for long.

There is a global supply glut, not just of crude oil, but, increasingly, refined products that will likely break the back of price support in the market, sending oil prices into a holiday plunge. So much so, land based storage tanks are filling up and increasing numbers of volumes are being stored on tankers.


In a recent report, the International Energy Agency highlighted the fact that global inventories of all petroleum products were at 3 billion barrels, which was a record. And just over 2 billion of those barrels are resident here in the U.S.

Read More Contango explained

Each week, in the summary page of its petroleum-status report, the U.S. Energy Information Administration references the fact that U.S. crude-oil inventories are at levels not seen in over 80 years. Inventories of gasoline are well-above their average and diesel fuels are also well-supplied.

The vast crude oil glut or mega-glut is manifest in the West Texas Intermediate (WTXR) and Brent crude oil price curves, which have moved into a “super-contango.” (Yup, there are lots of superlatives needed to describe the current state of the market.)

Contango refers to when the front-month or near-term futures contract are trading less than or at a discount to longer-dated futures contracts.

The difference between Brent crude-oil contracts, one year apart, recently hit a record $8 a barrel. The January 2016 WTI futures contract is trading at a hefty discount of $1.50 per barrel to the February contract. In tightly-supplied markets, when crude oil prices are strong, that spread value is the complete opposite.

Oil prices have gotten some support this week from the heightened military action and worry over the situation in Syria and Northern Iraq , especially withthe downing of the Russian fighter jet by Turkey. How Russia responds could plunge the region into deeper turmoil, putting a great deal of oil infrastructure and supply in the cross hairs. But these fears simply do not haunt the market for very long last these days.


The market also got a taste of Saudi Arabia ‘s power this week, when a flip comment by the Saudi oil minister at a cabinet meeting was taken to signal a change in production policy by the Kingdom, as a way of “cooperating” with the other OPEC and non-OPEC producers. With the OPEC meeting looming next week, the comments were seized upon.

The reality is that nothing will come of the OPEC meeting. The Saudis are set to hold their ground. They see little to gain in assisting their oil market and regional rivals, Russia and Iran , by helping to “stabilize” the oil markets. In fact, the Saudis don’t see a market that needs stabilizing.


The lone bright spot for the oil market has been the strong demand for gasoline. The demand in October in the U.S. was the highest in eight years. But, once the holidays pass, that demand will drop off, too.

The downward pressure remains intense on the petroleum complex from the mega-glut and the hit to demand from the economic softness in China and Europe. The strengthening dollar is also a negative for prices.

U.S. motorists will be filled with glee this holiday season, as they buy sub-$2.00 per gallon gasoline, courtesy of $30 crude oil.

Commentary by John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital, an investment-management firm that specializes in commodities. Follow him on Twitter @KilduffReport.

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Opko Health’s New Era Begins : Motley Fool

Following massive investments over the past two years that have swelled spending on research and development and included a slate of acquisitions, Opko Health (NYSE:OPK) could soon be on its way to delivering consistent quarterly profit to shareholders.

Bigger is better
Opko Health’s billionaire founder, Philip Frost, is legendary for orchestrating acquisitions that add value. After acquiring IVAX Pharmaceuticals in the 1980s and then growing it through M&A, he sold the company to TEVA Pharmaceuticals for $7.4 billion in 2005.

Frost could do even better than that with Opko Health.

After inking a slew of deals in the past to boost Opko Health’s drug pipeline, Frost bought the specialty laboratory company Bio-Reference Labs for $1.5 billion this past summer.

Because Bio-Reference Labs is the third largest laboratory services company, with roughly $200 million in pre-acquisition quarterly sales and $0.24 in quarterly pre-deal earnings, the acquisition significantly increases Opko Health’s sales while also giving it valuable cash flow to advance its pipeline and the potential for ongoing profitability.

Delivering on deals
One of Opko Health’s first acquisitions was rolapitant, a phase 3-ready drug that treats chemotherapy-induced vomiting and nausea, that Frost bought from Schering-Plough in 2009.

In 2010, Opko Health turned around and licensed rolapitant to Tesaro (NASDAQ:TSRO) for up to $121 million in milestone payments and tiered double-digit royalties and in September, the FDA-approved rolapitant for use under the brand name Varubi.

Since Tesaro was founded by Lonnie Moulder, the guru who helped launch the successful chemotherapy nausea drug Aloxi, and antinausea drugs like Merck’s Emend generate hundreds of millions of dollars in sales annually, Opko Health could start seeing meaningful revenue from Varubi soon.

Opko Health is also about to find out whether its acquisition of Cytochroma to get its hands on the vitamin D prohormone Rayaldee pays off.

Rayaldee is under FDA review for approval as a therapy to boost vitamin D in patients suffering from chronic kidney disease.

Stages 3, 4, and 5 CKD patients often suffer bone loss tied to imbalances in vitamin D that require treatment and that treatment typically consists of supplements that can deliver vitamin D inadequately or medicines that aren’t all that effective. If approved, Opko Health believes that Rayaldee could offer a better alternative in a market it estimates to be worth $12 billion.

Of course, no one knows how much of that market Rayaldee can capture, but investors should get a better idea next year given that the FDA’s decision on Rayaldee is expected on March 29.

Opko Health’s long-acting human growth hormone, hGH-CTP, which can be dosed once weekly instead of daily like current therapies, is also nearing the finish line.

The company acquired hGH-CTP when it bought Prolor for $480 million and earlier this year, Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) inked a deal that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Opko Health, plus royalties and potential profit sharing.

Specifically, to protect the market share for its human growth hormone Genotropin, Pfizer paid Opko Health $295 million in up-front cash and agreed to pay another $275 million in potential milestones, plus royalties, to license hGH-CTP. Pfizer also agreed to split profit on Genotropin with Opko Health if hGH-CTP notches approval for use in children.

Results from hGH-CTP’s phase 3 trial are anticipated in the second half of 2016 and if those results are good and hGH-CTP eventually wins the FDA go-ahead, then it will compete in a market worth over $3 billion annually.


Looking forward
Opko Health’s C-suite is packed with former IVAX leaders, including Jane Hsiao, who is vice chairman and worked at IVAX with Frost for more than a decade, and Steven Rubin, Opko Health’s executive vice president, who worked at IVAX for five years.

That team appears to have cobbled together an intriguing mix of drugs, products, and services and their efforts could soon pay off.

Given Opko Health’s upcoming catalysts including Varubi royalties, Rayaldee’s FDA decision, and hGH-CTP late-stage trial results, 2016 is shaping up to be a critical year for Opko Health that investors shouldn’t ignore.


Baltic Dry Index Keeping Iron OreMiners Afloat

AS OF 08:03 EDT

These are nervous times for iron ore producers.

Fortescue Metals, the fourth-largest miner of the steel-making material, starts to lose money if prices at Chinese ports fall below $39 a metric ton. After a 37 percent drop this year, Metal Bulletin’s benchmark is now just 16 cents above its record-low $44.59 a ton.


So it’s no surprise the Australian company’s chief executive officer, Nev Power, is pulling every lever to keep his red dirt in the black. He’s reducing the cost of mining, processing and then hauling the ore to port to $15 a ton from its current $18 a ton, according to a presentation last month. Interest expenses add another $4 a ton, so Fortescue announced Nov. 10 a tender offer aimed at paying back as much as $750 million ofdebt early.  Beyond that, he’s looking at developing a joint venture with Baosteel and Formosa Plastics to produce magnetite, according to Bloomberg’s David Stringer. That variety of iron ore requires costly processing but attracts a higher price and a lower government royalty tax than the hematite Fortescue mines at present.

One unexpected benefit comes from the Baltic Dry index, a benchmark for the cost of hiring freight ships that dipped below 500 on Friday for the first time since it started in 1985. When China’s industrial demand was strong, the cost of both raw materials and the ships used to transport them soared. Now that it’s slumping, commodity prices and ship rates will have to fall to clear supply gluts built up during the boom.

Looking at the cost of hiring a Capesize ore carrier gives you a sense of the benefit:

Flat Iron
The cost of hiring a large ore carrier has been slumping
Source: Baltic Exchange

Fortescue probably pays more than the current spot rate so as to reserve its cargo space and lock in prices for months at a time, but the benchmark is a good guide to the general direction of its expenses. A Capesize vessel carrying up to about 170,000 metric tons of iron ore will spend some 30 days making the round trip to deliver its cargo and get back to port, judging by the last voyage of the Bulk Prosperity, a bulker owned by China Development Bank that anchored off Australia’s Port Hedland on Monday after returning from Qingdao.

At current rates of $4,713 a day, transport on the spot market for the whole voyage would come to about 83 cents a metric ton on a fully laden ship. 12 months earlier, the day rate was $22,192, and transport was $3.92 a ton. When you’re only making $5.75 a ton of profit, as Fortescue is now, that’s a significant difference.

There’s potentially a virtuous circle here for iron ore producers. With operating costs for a capesize vessel averaging about $7,400 a day, according to consultancy Moore Stephens, shipowners are mostly losing money at current rates. But the alternative is less attractive these days, too. Thanks to that glut of iron ore, breaking up a ship and turning it into steel scrap only nets about half what it did a couple of years ago:

Breaking Up Is So Very Hard to Do
Low scrap prices are making it more difficult to remove ships from the market
Source: Metal Bulletin

That may keep more vessels on the market and ensure shipping costs stay lower for longer, helping iron ore miners stay in the black.

Don’t get too comfortable. Companies only book a ship if they have real cargo to move, so there’s no speculative activity in the Baltic Dry to take the edge off price swings. The index almost doubled during June and July and Capesize rates were above $14,000 a day as recently as September. Fortescue’s cushion is thin enough now that even a small spike could leave investors feeling sore.


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Hedge Funds Are Back to Bearish on Gold as Price Slump Deepens : Preparing For – $1000



  • Money managers hold first net-short position since August
  • Assets in global bullion ETPs drop to lowest since 2009

Prices are trapped in their worst rout since July as Federal Reserve officials talk up improvements for the U.S. economy and reinforce signs that they’re ready to raise borrowing costs for the first time since 2006. That prospect has sent investors fleeing. Assets in exchange-traded products backed by gold have fallen to the lowest since 2009. Money managers are holding a net-short position in the metal for first time since August as their long wagers shrunk to the smallest in seven years.

The bears are being rewarded after futures last week dropped to a five-year low. The outlook for increasing borrowing costs poses a few hurdles for gold. Because the metal doesn’t pay interest, it loses out to competing assets, such as bonds. At the same time, higher rates usually favor a stronger dollar and cut demand for alternatives, while a strengthening economy means investors are less interested in bullion as a haven. More than $6.5 billion was wiped from the value of gold ETPs since mid-October.

“Gold is dead in the water and is an asset class that should be avoided,” said Chad Morganlander, a Florham Park, New Jersey-based money manager at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., which oversees about $170 billion. “We continue to believe that dollar strength will be an anchor on metals, and in particular on gold.”

Fund Wagers

Futures have dropped 9.1 percent in 2015 to $1,076.30 an ounce on the Comex in New York. Prices fell for five straight weeks, the longest slide since July 24. The net-short position in gold futures and options was 8,989 contracts in the week ended Nov. 17, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released three days later show. That compares with a net-bullish position of 21,530 contracts a week earlier. Investors trimmed their long holdings to 92,318, the smallest since December 2008.

Bullion, long considered a haven during times of geopolitical turmoil, failed to sustain brief gains last week following the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris that left 129 people dead and injured another 352. In addition to being ignored by investors, the metal is suffering from weak physical demand, particularly in India, which vies with China as the world’s top bullion buyer. Valcambi, one of Switzerland’s largest gold refiners, projects annual Indian imports of 850 metric tons. That’s down from the average 875 tons in the past five years.

“Investors have become somewhat inured with terrorism,” Jack Ablin, chief investment officer in Chicago for BMO Private Bank, which oversees $68 billion, said by telephone. “They just see it as an ongoing risk, but a single event is not enough to derail an economy or a market, so investors have chosen to ignore it.”

Gold is heading for a third straight annual loss amid speculation that the Fed will soon start tightening monetary policy.Minutes from the Fed’s October meeting released last week showed officials stressed that “it may well become appropriate” to raise the benchmark lending rate in December. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts led by Jeffrey Currie said they expect bullion to extend losses over the next 12 months, according to a report on Nov. 18.

Paulson Stake

The slump hasn’t deterred billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson. His firm, Paulson & Co., left its holding in the SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s biggest bullion ETP, unchanged in the third quarter, a government filing showed Nov. 16.

While traders are pricing in a more than two-thirds chance of a rate increase in December, the Fed minutes showed policy makers largely agree that the pace of increases will be gradual. The rate outlook may already be “absorbed by the market for now,” Karvy Commodities Broking said in a report Friday.

“The Fed has made it clear they are likely to hike in December — they’ve also telegraphed that they are going to move very slowly from thereafter, so there’s a little less enthusiasm for the dollar,” said Dan Heckman, national investment consultant in Kansas City, Missouri, at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, which oversees about $126 billion. Still, “we have a very low inflation and a very low-growth environment, and it’s hard to make a case for gold.”


$20 Oil If OPEC Doesn’t Act : Venezuela

  • Don’t Cry for Me Venezuela
  • It won’t be easy, you’ll think it strange
    When I try to explain how I feel
    That I still need your love after all that I’ve doneI had to let it happen, I had to change
    Couldn’t stay all my life down at heel
    Looking out of the window, staying out of the sun
  • OPEC member seeks `equilibrium price’ of $88 a barrel
  • Saudis, Qatar to consider proposal, Venezuelan minister says

Oil prices may drop to as low as the mid-$20s a barrel unless OPEC takes action to stabilize the market, Venezuelan Oil Minister Eulogio Del Pino said.

Venezuela is urging the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to adopt an “equilibrium price” that covers the cost of new investment in production capacity, Del Pino told reporters Sunday in Tehran. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are considering his country’s proposal for an equilibrium price at $88 a barrel, he said.

OPEC ministers plan to meet on Dec. 4 to assess the producer group’s output policy amid a global supply glut that has pushed down crude prices by 44 percent in the last 12 months. OPEC supplies about 40 percent of the world’s production and has exceeded its official output ceiling of 30 million barrels a day for 17 months as it defends its share of the market. Benchmark Brent crude settled 48 cents higher at $44.66 a barrel in London on Friday.

“We cannot allow that the market continue controlling the price,” Del Pino said. “The principles of OPEC were to act on the price of the crude oil, and we need to go back to the principles of OPEC.”

OPEC ministers will meet informally on Dec. 3 in Vienna, a day before the group’s formal session, he said.