Gold Prices: Begging for QE3
The Fed's Operation Twist announcement Wednesday slammed gold prices, and the yellow metal fell 2.5% Thursday.
Gold for August delivery ended last week down 3.8% to about $1,570 an ounce, well below its 2011 high of $1,920.30.
Before the two-day FOMC meeting, gold was up 4% year-to-date. Gold rose at the beginning of the week on hopes that the Fed would announce accommodative moves.
In the last round of easy-money moves back in January, gold rallied as high as 15% as investors flocked to the asset for protection. Since then, gold has dropped numerous times from a lack of additional news of more easing.
Gold was once again disappointed last week when the Fed said it would keep twisting, and the lack of a more aggressive maneuver failed to give a needed gold rally.
"To get gold really moving, you need a definite QE3," Sterling Smith, commodity analyst with Citi Institutional Client Group, told Kitco News. "Operation Twist is not nearly the food for a gold bull that outright QE is."
Gold Prices and Operation TwistOn Wednesday morning, the Fed announced the extension of its long-term government bond holdings by $267 billion to decrease borrowing costs while selling an equal figure of short-term securities to keep its $2.9 trillion balance sheet.
While scheduled to end this month, the Fed extended the Operation Twist program until the end of the year.
Operation Twist is derived from a Federal Reserve program that "twists" the yield curve or sells short-term securities from its holdings and buys longer-term ones in an effort to drive down longer-term yields.
Market watchers had been mixed about this happening.
Barclay's Capital saw Operation Twist as "the most likely outcome," saying it would provide additional time for the Fed to sift through and mull soft data that is "payback" from the additional warm winter hiring or a potentially lengthier prolonged slowdown, reported Kitco.
But since Operation Twist was considered the least the Fed could do, markets had priced it in already.
Jeffrey Wright, managing director and research analyst with Global Hunter Securities, said to Kitco he expected limited gains for gold on the heels of the "Twist," possibly to the $1,650 range, as the market has already been adding in the possibility for Fed action.
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Three Glencore Xstrata Takeover Targets: TCK, AAL, FCX
The proposed mega-merger of Glencore International PLC and Xstrata PLC will create a global powerhouse with the potential to shake up the mining industry overnight.
If completed, the $90 billion deal will form a mining behemoth with control over one-third of the global market for thermal coal, and make it the world's largest producer of integrated zinc production. It will also rank as the world's third-largest copper producer and fourth-largest nickel producer.
Basically, the merger would create a super-giant that could compete with the industry's heavyweights - BHP Billiton Ltd. (NYSE ADR: BBL), Rio Tinto PLC (NYSE ADR: RIO), and Vale (NYSE ADR: VALE) - the mining industry's "Big Three."
The merger is certain to spark volatility in the sector, according to Money Morning Global Resources Specialist Peter Krauth, an expert in metals and mining stocks who runs the Global Resource Forecast investment service.
"What observers need to understand is consolidation like this concentrates decision making," Krauth said. "The fewer participants in an industry, the more impact they have.
When output is either increased or decreased by one or more mega producers, it will also have a larger impact on world supplies, and therefore prices."
With that kind of power, the Glencore-Xstrata deal will form a goliath with the appetite - and the muscle - to swallow its weaker rivals.
Glencore Xstrata: Hungry for MergersBased on estimated 2011 results compiled by Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE ADR: CS), the new company would have revenue of $211.3 billion and net profit of $7.5 billion. That kind of clout would make its stock valuable currency for more acquisitions.
Plus, both companies are led by aggressive chief executives that have a history of snapping up competitors.
Xstrata has been racking up spectacular growth through acquisitions, although lately it has focused on organic or internal growth to boost production by 50% by 2014.
Glencore, a trader of metals, minerals and oil, has said the main idea behind going public after almost four decades as a private company was to grab acquisitions.
Of course, the new company would have more going for it than sheer size and a forceful management team.
Glencore has a giant global intelligence network of 2,000 employees in about 40 countries. Many of them are traders and marketers that collect extensive data on what commodity buyers want and when.
"Glencore's network makes the CIA look like your grandmother's coffee club," columnist Eric Reguly recently wrote in The Globe & Mail. "It has been adept at forecasting commodity prices based on intimate knowledge of production, demand, regulations, political whims, transport costs and movements everywhere."
Glencore's intelligence network will likely direct it to takeover targets that have iron ore resources, an area where Xstrata currently lacks exposure.
The industry's Big Three control nearly 70% of the one billion-ton annual iron ore seaborne trade, along with contract pricing. Lately they've been dampening prices by flooding the market with iron ore, driving high-cost producers out of the business.
But their mushrooming market shares have triggered more regulatory reviews by concerned governments. That should clear the way for the new Glencore Xstrata entity to target smaller competitors without the Big Three interfering.
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Higher Corn Market Prices Will Hit Your Wallet
A smaller-than-expected U.S. fall harvest, combined with strong demand, has sown the seeds of higher corn market prices. That will inflate your grocery bill, but it's also an investing opportunity that should persist into next year according to some experts.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently reduced its forecast for the fall corn crop to 12.9 billion bushels from 13.5 billion based on damage from spring flooding and summer drought in several key corn-producing states.
Midwest temperatures averaged eight degrees higher than normal in July, while some areas got less than a third of their normal rainfall.
"Corn is dead on some of the sandiest ground and looks more like the middle of October than mid-August. The corn crop is pretty much a done deal," Mike Mawdsley of broker Market 1 told Agrimoney.com.
In addition to lowering its estimate for the fall harvest, the USDA has also lowered its quality rating of the U.S. corn crop. The USDA had rated 70% of the corn crop "good to excellent" as of June 26; that number fell to 60% on Aug. 14 and was revised down to 57% on Monday. Last year, 70% of the corn crop was rated good to excellent.
Many experts believe the USDA has only just begun to downgrade.
"The USDA crop forecast should ...still prove too optimistic, despite the downward revision already made in August,"Commerzbank analysts said.
Another group, MDA Information Systems Inc., has already undercut the USDA's harvest estimate. MDA forecasts a corn crop of just 12.23 billion bushels.
Price PressureThe ever-worsening harvest forecasts have steadily pushed corn market prices higher.
The price of corn has soared 70% in the past 12 months, with futures for September and December delivery well north of $7 a bushel. September futures on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) rose to $7.29 on Tuesday, while December futures rose to $7.42.
That's bad for consumers. Corn is the single-biggest cause of increases in food prices, which are expected to rise 4% for 2011. Analysts expect higher corn market prices to help push retail food prices up another 4% next year.
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The Death of the "Dollar Carry Trade"
By maintaining a F ederal F unds rate below the 0.25% level - and injecting $600 billion into the banking system through a second round of quantitative easing - the U.S. Federal Reserve has orchestrated a bubble-like surge in commodity prices, an uptick in global inflation and a historic resurgence in U.S. stock prices.
The low-interest-rate strategy has enabled the U.S. central bank to achieve another important objective - a massive depreciation in the value of the U.S. dollar.
There's only one problem with all these "successes" the Fed has achieved: If the dollar ever rebounds, this elaborate financial structure the central bank has engineered will be exposed for what it really is - a shaky arrangement that will collapse like the house of cards that it is.
The fallout from such a collapse could be widespread and painful - especially for investors who've been riding the so-called "dollar carry trade" to major profits.
There's one way to profit from Gilani's newest prediction. Read on to find out all about it.