Gold, Silver Prices Claw Higher

Gold and Silver both posted higher today on inflation fears and a lower US dollar. Many also bought the metals as protection against a worldwide double-dip recession especially with no resolution to the Greek debt crisis that has been the center everything.

By Alix Steel
06/20/11 - 02:39 PM EDT
THE STREET

NEW YORK (TheStreet ) -- Gold and silver prices rallied Monday on safe haven buying as the U.S. dollar index gave up gains.

Gold for August delivery added $2.90 to close at $1,542 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The gold price has traded as high as $1,548.20 and as low as $1,533.60, while the spot gold price was adding $1.20, according to Kitco's gold index.

Silver prices rose 32 cents to close at $36.07 an ounce. The U.S. dollar index was flat at $75.01, as the euro was slightly lower.

With no resolution to Greece's debt crisis, investors were buying gold and silver as protection against a worldwide, double-dip recession. Both metals were weaker in early-morning trading as a stronger dollar weighed on prices, but gold and silver quickly rallied as panicked investors needed some place to put their cash. U.S. stocks were higher but still bouncing around some risky key support areas.

European Union finance ministers were unable to come to an agreement on another bailout package for Greece as well its next chunk of money from its first bailout. Officials were reportedly waiting for a €28 billion austerity bill to pass the Greek Parliament. The measure has been causing protests and strikes in Athens. Prime Minister George Papandreou now must fight for his political life at a confidence vote late Tuesday.

Gold and silver's safe haven status isn't a sure thing, however, as uncertainty in Greece pushes the dollar higher vs. the euro, a headwind for all dollar-priced commodities. Gold and silver "remain more vulnerable to downside pressure in the short term with the lack of clear agreement of financial aid to Greece increasing the likelihood of a broad rout of risk appetite, which would drag gold initially lower," says James Moore, research analyst at FastMarkets.

Moore does point to the 9-ton increase in the SPDR Gold Shares(GLD) Friday as reason to believe that safe-haven buying will support prices for the long term.

Gold and silver prices also will have to contend with the Federal Reserve's two-day FOMC meeting, which ends Wednesday. Although no change in the interest rate is expected, gold will be reacting to how the Fed will exit its current $600 billion bond buying program, which is scheduled to end this month, and how it will deal with slow growth vs. rising inflation.

Goldman Sachs slashed its U.S. growth forecast for the second quarter to 2% from 3%, with one of the causes being this no-win/no-win situation for the Fed. "The Federal Open Market Committee is stuck between a rock (slow growth) and a hard place (higher inflation)," says the note. "We expect Chairman Bernanke to indicate ... that there is little prospect of either monetary tightening or monetary easing anytime soon."

Goldman estimates that it would take a 1.25 point increase in the unemployment rate or a 1 point drop in the inflation forecast for the Fed to pump additional money into the system. This murky view is trickling down to gold and silver as well.

"I think they are going to have to implement something," says Phil Streible, senior market strategist at Lind-Waldock, but "they are going to tread water as long as possible." Streible believes that a stronger dollar could put some pressure on gold and silver, but that "we are probably going to see a continuation in the meltdown of the euro currency, and that should provide some strength to gold and silver ... I think the worst is yet to come" for Europe.

Gold mining stocks were losing steam. Kinross Gold(KGC) was down 1.53% to $14.83 while Yamana Gold(AUY) was 0.55% higher at $11.36. Other gold stocks, Agnico-Eagle(AEM) and Eldorado Gold(EGO)were trading at $61.28 and $13.52, respectively.

--Written by Alix Steel in New York.

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