Spain Drags Gold Lower

By Traders Huddle | June 01, 2012 AAA

The third credit ratings downgrade of Spain in the past month by ratings agency Egan-Jones pressured gold futures Tuesday. Following the three-day weekend, Comex gold for June delivery slipped $20.20, or 1.3%, to settle at $1,548.70 a troy ounce. Egan-Jones pared Spain's credit rating to B from BB-, meaning the Euro Zone's fourth-largest economy is seeing its credit ebb deeper and deeper into junk status. The PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish (NYSE: UUP) closed modestly lower.

Noteworthy about Egan-Jones' junk view of Spain is that the three major ratings agencies - Standard & Poor's, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings - still retain investment grade ratings on the country. Still, one ratings firm moving Spain to junk stats could inspire others to do the same, elevating Spain's borrowing costs and forcing already high yields on Spanish bonds higher.

Of course none of this is good news for gold ETFs. The iShares Gold Trust (NYSE: IAU) lost 1.1% on above average volume while the SPDR Gold Shares (NYSE: GLD) also slid 1.1% on volume that was just below the daily average. Data from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) indicate money managers, commodities pools and other speculators remain net long gold as a group, but they are net short copper and are seen paring long positions in the other precious metals.

Speaking of the other precious metals, despite the fact that U.S. equities closed sharply higher, the iShares Silver Trust (NYSE: SLV) slid 2% on below average volume. Another couple of bad days or just one really awful day could see SLV's 2.5% year-to-date gain evaporate in a heartbeat. Those looking for support levels on SLV should look no further than $26. This area is firm, long-term support and if violated, SLV risks a return to $20, maybe lower.

Platinum futures were able to crawl higher, but the ETFS Physical Platinum Shares (NYSE: PPLT) finished the day lower by nearly 0.3%. PPLT has lost almost 9% in the past month. The ETFS Physical Palladium Shares (NYSE: PALL) surprised with a gain of 2.2%, though its still hard to get excited about this fund, which is off more than 12% in the past month.

The miners were mixed on the day as the Global X Silver Miners ETF (NYSE: SIL) eked out a small light-volume gain. The Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSE: GDX) gave up 1.8% on high turnover while the Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (NYSE: GDXJ) slid two-thirds also on high volume. Both funds appeared to be responding more to near-term overbought conditions than macro factors.

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