2011-08-03

Gold price soared to yet another all-time high Wednesday morning

The gold price soared to yet another all-time high Wednesday morning, rising $37.09 to $1,640.80 per ounce. The price of gold dipped briefly following the deal to raise the debt ceiling, but quickly bounced back amid concerns that the United States would lose its AAA credit rating. Helping to further boost gold prices was a fresh batch of economic data showing the U.S. economy was slowing materially. Weak Q2 GDP data, downward revisions to previous quarters, and softer June manufacturing figures has fueled a surge in investment demand for gold and investments tied to the gold price.

News this morning that consumer spending fell 0.2% in June was weaker than market expectations of a 0.1% gain. The gold price has begun to significantly outperform cyclically-sensitive stocks and commodities as a series of disappointing U.S. economic reports has been released. Gold has also outperformed its sister precious metal, silver, in recent months. Silver – which sits 20% below its spring all-time high of $49.79 per ounce – is following the gold price higher Tuesday morning, rising 2.0% to $40.11 per ounce.

The primary catalyst for the gold price rebound yesterday was news that the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing index for July came in at 50.9 – well below the 54.9 consensus estimate among economists. The ISM index fell to its lowest level since July 2009 and has now posted its worst three-month stretch since September-November 2008.

The index is calculated by asking manufacturing supply managers if they are seeing rising or falling activity compared to the prior month on a host of economic topics. It is considered a key leading indicator of the U.S. economy and the 50 level is the barrier between expansion and contraction.

Coupled with last week’s worse than expected GDP report, the disappointing ISM data added to mounting evidence that the U.S. economy is slowing significantly. Meredith Whitney – the analyst famous for her bearish call on financial stocks in 2007 and 2008 – said in a CNBC interview that she is seeing increasing signs that the U.S. economy is headed for a double-dip recession.

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