Pictured is a blue flame caused when Zinc vapour and oxygen reacts when heated to around 1000°C (in combination with other elements such as copper, silver, gold, hydrogen and nitrogen).
Zinc (Zn) decomposes into Zinc Oxide (ZnO: zinc vapor and oxygen) at around 1975 °C with a standard oxygen pressure. In a carbothermic reaction, heating with carbon converts the oxide into zinc vapor at a much lower temperature (around 950 °C). (Source: Wikipedia)
After a data filled week, precious metals still remain in relatively tight trading ranges, barely changed from this time last week. While we’ve still experiencing some whippy trading sessions, the ultimate outcomes have done very little to denote direction. Friday’s much anticipated US non-farms payroll data was viewed as positive on meeting market expectations. Revisions lower from last month’s pervious report perhaps tempered traders relief following a recent string of weaker economic releases. Although one piece of less negative data shouldn’t rise expectations of interest hikes happening anytime in June.
Across in China, news of further stimulus from China’s central bank cutting their one year lending rate by 25 basis points to 5.1% should have a positive flow on effect for commodities. These changes are aimed stimulating their slowing economy to reach its 7% growth targets. Expectations are that this is not the last stimulus, with further easing to follow in the coming months. Lack of commodity demand out of China certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed by the precious metals sector.
Closer to home, we’ve finally found some relief from a high NZD. Since the NZ Reserve Bank hinted it would cut interest rates if demand weakens and inflation remained low, many major banks have come out revising their interest rate forecasts. ANZ Bank is calling for interest rate cuts in both June and July, along with First NZ Capital calling for cuts. This resulted in sharp 2 cent correction in the NZD/USD. Adding fuel to calls for interest cuts, NZ employment data released late last week showed our unemployment rate for the first quarter remained at 5.8% vs expectations of a drop to 5.5%. Our rock star economy may be having Justin Bieber like fall from fame. This isn’t of course all bad, those holding Gold paid in NZD will be reaping the benefits. So noted in this report, I’ve fancied Gold in NZD terms, therefore the recent demise of NZD has seen Gold values in NZD climb 2%, while USD pricing remain stagnant.
Golds trading patterns appear to be forming a wedge, with declining highs, but with lows remain unbroken, forming progressively resilient support. This doesn’t mean that we can now assume a price floor is in place, it just highlights strong demand for Gold at the US$1150-1170 per oz. area. On the topside, we’ll need a break of US$1205 per oz. before we can feel more convinced about future higher prices. Otherwise we have a clear trading range in which we can sell into spikes around US$1200-1205 with protective stop losses close to US$1210 -1215 per oz. However, my preference is to buy on dips around US$1175-1180 per oz.
Apart from the high temperatures involved, platinum alloys weld readily without the need for fluxes. Because filler metal, if needed, is the same as the components to be joined, it is easily possible to close the seam without any visible colour change. This is a decided advantage in sizing rings, for instance. Even so, it is good practice to minimise the amount of filler needed (whether welding or soldering) by making joints as closely and accurately as possible; platinum alloys do not readily bridge large gaps with filler metal (which is not pasty at any stage).
The absence of fluxes, except for the lowest melting point solders (where the flux is to protect the solder, not the platinum – see below table), means that the usual adhesiveness of flux cannot be used to support the solder paillons in place. In practice, a small amount of non-borate flux may be used for this purpose, although it is not necessary metallurgically. Alternatively, solder may be clipped in the joint or supported by a thin extension of stock wire that is allowed to melt free at the last moment.
Silver again out-shined with a 3% gain, Palladium + 2%, while both Gold and Platinum traded 1.5% higher from the same time last week.
Trading hasn’t been without some trepidations, bullion traders once again closing positions into the weekend. Fridays have now become renowned for this mass exodus of risk. Gold sinking to six week lows, breaking below $1,170 per oz. before clawing back slightly into the close. Even a falling US dollar and generally poor US data didn’t support Friday’s metal prices. Recognising this trend allows us to identify opportunities and eliminate panic decisions. Monday saw safe-haven buyers back in the market after developments in the Middle East over the weekend and bargain hunters restore last week’s Gold losses. Though the recovery did pick up steam following last night’s US data miss, temporarily reaching key psychological $1,200 level, to currently settle just below at $1,195.
Fundamentals are slowly moving back in the favour of holding precious metals. Physical demand in Asia appears to be picking up again at the currently lower prices. While US data fails to deliver promised growth. Overnight, US trade deficit of $51.4 billion was much larger than the expected $41.2 billion and the worst reading since October 2008. This highlights the dollar’s strong headwind effect on US manufacturing, eroding the country’s global competitiveness. How long can the US dollar maintain present strength?
Looking ahead, most participants should remain cautious ahead of Friday’s blockbuster US non-farm payroll data, which is forecast at 231,000 in April, after an unusually weak reading of 126,000 in March. Following some soft US numbers and the central bank’s shift to a data-dependent stance of monetary policy, the data could provide clues on when the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates, and therefore the direction of precious metals dominate pricing factor, the US dollar.