Gold News

Euro Holds Ground Despite French Downgrade, Indian Central Bank Bans Loans for Buying Gold

Wholesale prices for Buying Gold hovered above $1730 per ounce throughout Tuesday morning's London trading, 1% up on the week so far, while the Euro also held onto gains made yesterday despite news that a second ratings agency this year has downgraded France.

Gold rose by more than $20 during Monday's trading, following reports that a deal may be done between US politicians on the so-called fiscal cliff.

"People are feeling a bit at ease about the budget talks in Congress," says Yuichi Ikemizu at Standard Bank in Tokyo.

"But gold is in a tight range between $1,700 and $1,740 until we see a result of the talks at the year end, as the 'fiscal cliff' is the focus of the market."

Silver meantime traded around $33.20 an ounce this morning, up more than 3% from last week's close.

Most European stock markets ticked lower this morning, with the exception of Germany's DAX, while commodities were broadly flat.

Moody's last night became the second rating agency this year to downgrade France. Moody's lowered its credit rating for France by one notch, from Aaa to Aa1, while maintaining a negative outlook.

"Moody's is now giving France the same rating as Standard & Poor's," French finance minister Pierre Moscovici said Monday following the downgrade announcement.

"[This rating] has allowed us to live with low interest rates for many months."

Although S&P stripped France of its AAA rating back in January, benchmark yields of 10-Year French governments bonds have fallen, from above 3% to close to 2%.

In its ratings rationale, Moody's cites "sustained loss of competitiveness" and "deteriorating economic prospects" as reasons behind the decision.

In addition, Moody's argues that France's membership of the Euro and therefore its lack of monetary sovereignty could make it more difficult to deal with a rise in borrowing costs.

"While the French government's debt service costs have been largely contained to date, Moody's would not expect this to remain the case in the event of a further shock," a statement from the ratings agency said.

"A rise in debt service costs would further increase the pressure on the finances of the French government, which, unlike other non-Euro area sovereigns that carry similarly high ratings, does not have access to a national central bank that could assist with the financing of its debt in the event of a market disruption."

Eurozone finance ministers meantime meet in Brussels today, where they will discuss whether to approve payment of the next installment of bailout money for Greece. If they agree, national parliaments will then vote on the matter.

The Eurogroup is also expected to discuss policies aimed at improving Greece's debt sustainability. Policies reportedly under discussion include cutting interest rates in loans to Greece and extending the time for repaying loans.

Germany has suggested a debt buyback of privately held debt at haircuts of 75%, CNBC reports, while Finland's finance minister has confirmed politicians are also looking at using profits from the European Central Bank's Securities Markets Programme, which formally ended in September.

Under the SMP, the ECB bought the debt of distressed sovereigns in the open market. Because it bought bonds that were trading below their par value, the central bank is due to make a profit on this debt if it is held to maturity.

Athens meantime rejected a demand yesterday by the International Monetary Fund to cut an additional 22,000 civil service jobs.

Spain meantime sold more debt than anticipated at an auction of 12- and 18-month Treasury bills this morning, raising €4.9 billion. The yield on the 12-month bills was down slightly compared to the last auction of such debt, although 18-month yields rose.

Spain has over €100 billion of debt due to mature in 2013.

In the UK, chancellor George Osborne is considering reducing tax relief on the pension contributions of wealthier people, ahead of next month's Autumn Statement on the economy, the Financial Times reports.

India's central bank meantime has banned banks from lending money for the purposes of Buying Gold.

"It is advised that no advances should be granted by banks for purchase of gold in any form, including primary gold, gold bullion, gold jewellery, gold coins, units of gold Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) and units of gold mutual funds" said a statement issued by the Reserve Bank of India Monday.

India is tradtionally the world's biggest gold buying nation.

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