London Gold market report
The wholesale gold price drifted lower to $1730 per ounce Monday morning in London, some ten Dollars below Friday's six-month high.
Stock markets were broadly flat and US Treasuries fell, meantime.
The silver price dipped below $33.50 per ounce - around 20 cents below last week's close - while other commodities were broadly flat, with the exception of copper, which posted gains.
"Our economists now expect the Fed to ease further at this week's FOMC meeting, providing gold the catalyst it requires to test fresh highs for this year over the coming weeks," says a note from Barclays Capital.
"The latest price rally has been driven mainly by hopes that central banks will implement monetary easing measures," agree analysts at Commerzbank, citing last week's European Central Bank announcement of unlimited government bond buying as well as the prospect of QE3.
Friday's trading saw the wholesale-market gold price in Dollars hit its highest level since February, after a disappointing US nonfarm payrolls report led to renewed speculation the Federal Reserve could announce a third round of quantitative easing (QE3) when it makes its latest policy decision this Wednesday.
"QE3 is likely to spark higher inflation in the medium to long term and lead to fears of depreciation of key trading currencies," says Commerzbank.
"This should benefit gold as a store of value and as an alternative currency."
Germany's Constitutional Court is also due to rule this Wednesday on whether or not the Eurozone's permanenet bailout fund the European Stability Mechanism is compatible with German law.
Germany must "lead or leave" the Eurozone of single currency members, billionaire investor George Soros has told the Financial Times.
"Either throw in your fate with the rest of Europe, take the risk of sinking or swimming together, or leave the Euro," says Soros.
"Because if you have left, the problems of the Eurozone would get better."
Berlin has repeatedly insisted that Eurozone governments must adhere to austerity measures in return for financial aid, a policy which Soros describes as "reinforcing the current deflationary stance".
Over in China - the world's second-largest gold buying nation last year - imports of gold from Hong Kong rose 12% month-on-month in July to nearly 76 tonnes, the second highest level this year and almost double the figure for July 2011, Hong Kong customs data show. Hong Kong is a major conduit for Chinese gold bullion imports.
In the same month, China's domestic gold mining production rose to 31.3 tonnes, according to Ministry of Industry and Information Technology figures published Monday. Chinese gold output for the first seven months of 2012 was 208 tonnes - a gain of just over 7% on the same period last year.
"Slowing real domestic demand in China was the key factor, consistent with the soft activity data in the past few weeks," says Societe Generale economist Wei Yao.
In New York, the so-called speculative net long position of Comex gold futures and options traders - measured as the difference between the number of open bullish and bearish contracts - rose for the third week running to hit its highest level since February last Tuesday, according to weekly data published by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
"The change in the net position was once again driven by moves of a bullish nature," says Standard Bank commodities strategist Marc Ground, meaning the addition of bullish 'long' positions was a bigger factor than the reduction of bearish 'shorts'.
"The unwinding of short positions was similar to the previous week...a strong addition to longs was also evident, although it was noticeably lower than in the previous week."
Investment bank UBS today raised its one-month gold price forecast from $1700 per ounce to $1850 per ounce, and its silver price forecast to $37 per ounce, up from $32 per ounce.
One Citi analyst meantime says gold could rise to $2500 per ounce in the first quarter of next year, the New York Post reports.
In South Africa meantime, some 15,000 gold mining workers - a third of the workforce - are on strike at the KDC West mine, operated by the world's fourth-biggest gold producer Gold Fields. The strike comes less than a week after Gold Fields resolved a dispute at its KDC East mine, which involved 12,000 workers.
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