Gold Down on Greek Debt Talks

Tensions are heating up in Greece as the euro zone seeks a Greek aid deal without write-offs.

Gold fell back below $1750 an ounce, a few Dollars below where they closed last week following Friday’s rally, while stocks and commodities also edged lower and US Treasuries gained ahead of further discussion on Greece at today’s meeting of Euro finance ministers.

Eurozone finance ministers meet today to discuss Greece, following last Tuesday’s meeting that ended without agreement to pay Athens its latest tranche of bailout funding.

Policymakers are yet to agree on how Greece should reduce its debt-to-GDP ratio, with the aim of bringing it down to 120% over the next decade. Some Euro members have suggested reducing the interest rates Greece pays on its loans, while Germany is reported to favor allowing Greece to buy back some of its debt at below face value.

In a closed-door meeting last week German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble reportedly told his counterparts from France, Italy and Spain, as well as International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, that Germany might eventually write off some of its loans to Greece. At the Eurozone finance ministers meeting the next day however Schaeuble ruled this out.

“It turns out that Schaeuble may have exceeded his mandate from the Chancellery, if he had one,” one EU official told Reuters.

On Friday, spot gold rallied in US trading to close above $1750 an ounce for the first time in over a month. One analyst this morning called Friday’s move a “technical breakout” enabled by “illiquid trading conditions” a day after Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday in the US.

“We’d like to see prices above $1760 to confirm the movement,” adds a note from ANZ. “That would pave the way for a test of $1790-$1800…[but] We think $1800 will prove to be a step too far in the current market, and remain confident in year-end forecast of $1780.”

Elsewhere in Europe, two thirds of the vote went to pro-independence parties in yesterday’s regional elections in Catalonia, with the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) party, one of several parties that have called for a referendum on Catalonia’s independence from Spain, more than doubling its number of seats in the regional assembly in elections held Sunday.

The Convergencia i Unio party of Catalan president Artur Mas won 50 of the 135 seats, down from 62, Bloomberg reports, meaning Mas does not have a majority in the assembly.

“With a majority, Mas could have negotiated [with the national government in Madrid] for all kinds of goodies to postpone the referendum but clearly that’s not an option anymore,” says Ken Dubin, political scientist at Carlos III University in Madrid.

Despite being Spain’s richest region, Catalonia requested a €5 billion bailout from the national government back in August. Mas has called for independent tax collection and has said net transfers from Catalonia to other regions are to blame for its financial difficulties.

Over in India, where a central bank official talked today of the benefits of investing in “dematerialized gold”, bullion importers today opted not to buy new stock for the wedding season, with the Rupee weakening against the Dollar.

Rules restricting banks from buying gold back from customers are “a work in progress”, the Reserve Bank of India’s deputy governor Subir Gokarn told a conference Monday.

Gokarn also elaborated on last week’s announcement that the authorities are looking at creating investment products linked to gold to satisfy demand in a country that is traditionally the world’s biggest god buying nation, and which imports the vast majority of its bullion.

“Since current account deficit is large and capital flows are becoming more uncertain,” Gokarn said, “the role of innovation is to find ways to not deny the ability or choice of investing in gold… can we find ways to give [people] gold like products, what one may call dematerialized gold, with gold like qualities but are not entirely dependent on physical possession.”

By Raphael Thurber

Raphael Thurber is a respected resource writer and editor. A graduate of the College of William and Mary, Raphael is a longtime contributor to Yahoo Finance, with an interest in resource and investment journalism that spans over 10 years. As Editor of MiningFeeds, Raphael is responsible for assuring that the site remains a valuable knowledge resource for those in the mining sector.

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