Gold Stuck Near 8-week Lows After Fed Minutes

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"Several" policy makers were in favor of starting the reduction of its $4.5 trillion balance sheet within a "couple of months".

The minutes from the June meeting offered no new indications of when the next rate hike would come. The statement released at the meeting only indicated such a process would start this year.

Spot gold rose 0.4 pct at $1,225.08 per ounce at around 1140 GMT, while USA gold futures rallied 0.5 pct to $1,224.60 per ounce. While Chair Janet Yellen told a post-meeting press conference the process could begin "relatively soon", the central bank has left the precise timing and sequencing a mystery.

Since that meeting, final GDP figures for the first quarter showed economic growth was better than expected.

As of Wednesday afternoon, markets were projecting a 97 percent chance that the Fed would remain on hold when it meets again in July. The Committee expected to begin implementing a balance sheet normalization program in 2017, provided that the economy evolves broadly as anticipated. "That does call into question whether or not we are going to see as aggressive a Fed as they are telling us to expect", said Phipps.

After the June meeting, Yellen said the plan would lead to "a gradual and largely predictable decline" in the assets.

Mark Hamrick of Bankrate.com said the Fed's decisions have been slow to filter into financial markets. Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer had earlier said increased valuations could only partly be explained by an improving economic outlook. It can take a lot of action and not hurt the stock market.

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"There's some concern probably, about frothiness in the markets", said Omair Sharif, senior USA economist at Societe Generale in NY.

Recent readings below the Fed's 2% goal were attributed to "idiosyncratic factors, including sharp declines in prices of wireless telephone services and prescription drugs, and expected these developments to have little bearing on inflation over the medium run".

Data last week showed the Commerce Department's core index slowed to 1.4% in May.

That said, the Fed has been listing reasons to view the price pullback as temporary. I think that inflation is lower than they want.

Inflation has remained nearly continuously below the central bank's 2 percent target for more than five years.

The minutes will also probably discuss unemployment, which is at its lowest level since 2001. But economists and investors are increasingly questioning whether the economy is strong enough to warrant the Fed's relatively ambitious pace of rate hikes, as the Fed continues to forecast another rate hike this year and three more rate hikes each in 2018 and 2019.

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