Shortly after Eurozone sources said several countries may face imminent downgrade by S&P, Reuters reported that France's credit rating will be downgraded. The ratings agency warned in December that it may downgrade several Eurozone nations if European leaders failed to enact a credible solution to the financial crisis. After the downgrade, the U.S. Dollar Index climbed to 81.75, the highest level it has been since 2010. There's a "sharp rally in the U.S. Dollar Index due to increased worry of weakness in euro," said Darin Newsom, senior analyst at Telvent DTN. Gold declined $15 to $1,632/oz, while silver declined $0.40 to $29.75/oz.
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Although gold and silver prices pull back at times, the demand continues to remain strong for both precious metals. China's gold imports from Hong Kong reached a record high in November. Earlier this week, the Hong Kong government reported that mainland China purchased 102,779 kilograms (kg) of gold from Hong Kong, which represents a 20% increase from October and an all-time high. While the price decline in gold had the media claiming bubble here in the U.S., China was busy buying the dip. There is also strong demand for silver. According to the latest data from the U.S. Mint, silver eagle sales have already hit almost 4.6 million (M) in January. There was only one month last year that had a greater sales amount, and we still have more than two weeks left in the current month.
While Europe continues to deteriorate, there is increasing chatter about whether or not the Federal Reserve will take even more action to boost the U.S. economy. San Francisco Fed President John Williams recently said that the high employment levels "make an argument that we should have more stimulus." Although the Fed is experimenting with a new communications strategy, it will not replace the calls for more easing. According to the just-released primary dealer survey from the Fed, top Wall Street fixed-income dealers place a 60% probability on the Fed expanding its massive balance sheet within a year.
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Eric McWhinnie, Wall St. Cheat Sheet
To contact the reporter on this story: Eric McWhinnie at [email protected]