Gold News

Silver Prices Take a Beating on Crimea and Fed Chair Yellen’s Interest-Rate Forecast

SILVER PRICES dropped significantly last week, losing 3.8% at Friday's London Fix from the week before after Russia's takeover of Crimea failed to buoy precious metals, and the US Federal Reserve brought forward the likely date for raising interest rates from zero.
Fixing at $20.55 per ounce on Friday in London, silver prices stood nearly 7% below the 4-month high established in late February.
Silver futures contracts for May, the most actively traded month on the US Comex, settled at $20.31 per ounce, over 5% lower than last week and $1.50 lower than the peak of February.
US stock markets crept higher, and bond yields rose sharply after the Federal Reserve continued its tapering of QE asset purchases Wednesday, and revised its outlook for finally raising interest rates from zero.
Ten-year Treasury rates reversed all of the previous week's drop to reach 2.79% after Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen's said short-term rates could be raised "around six months" after the Fed's QE program is complete.
As QE tapering is expected to end new asset purchases in April or May 2015, this indicates higher rates beginning late 2015, and traders began selling zero-yielding silver – typical with expectations of higher interest rates.
"The metal is now sitting back in the range that traded from late November through mid-February, and is poised for further weakness," says technical analysis from ScotiaMocatta, a market-maker on the London silver bullion market.
Scotia's analysis now target's "a test of the bottom at $18.83" per ounce.
Also seeing silver prices in a trading range, "Silver took support at last December's lows of $18.90," agrees chart analysis from French investment bank and London bullion market-maker Societe Generale, saying that level "confirmed a double bottom pattern."
Open interest on the Comex silver futures contract, which indicates the growth or decline of activity, was reported at 145,986 contracts at Friday's close, up some 2.8% from the previous week.
The Commitment of Traders Report, based on positions as of Tuesday, still shows that speculative interest in the market is bullish. But non-industry players cut their long position by 2,292 contracts.
Holdings of large silver investment bars at the iShares SLV, the largest silver exchange traded fund, showed little change week over week, ending Friday at 10,164.74 tonnes.
For March so far, the US Mint meantime reported sales of 1-ounce Silver Eagle coins on pace for a 17% decline from the same month last year at 3,283,500.
Looking at the ongoing Crimea crisis, "Our economist views the risk of more wide-reaching trade and financial sanctions to be quite limited for now," said Friday's Market Report by Edel Tully at Swiss investment and bullion bank UBS.
"[This] is only likely to come into play if Russian armed forces spread their presence into Eastern Ukraine."

Vice president of business development for BullionVault from 2012 to 2014, Miguel Perez-Santalla is a fierce advocate for retail investors, and a regular speaker at industry and media events. With over 30 years' experience in the precious metals business, Miguel has worked at the United States' top coin dealerships, as well as international refining group Heraeus.

See the full archive of Miguel Perez-Santalla articles.

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