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Gold & Precious Metals

Gold: "We've passed the point of maximum despair,"

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Posted by Adrian Ash - The Bullion Vault

on Thursday, 22 March 2012 06:01

Even the bulls are turning bearish on gold prices. Or rather, they'd like to.

"Everything's beginning to look as if it's turning the corner, we've passed the point of maximum despair," reckons Nick Moore, head of commodity research at state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland in London. He cut the bank's bullish 2012 forecasts for all precious metals except goldback in January.

But now, "A number of things which would have kept people with an eye on the upside for gold have now been neutralized." And despair over, gold must be fated to sink, right? Not quite.

"Gold can now settle back," Moore tells Bloomberg, plumping a cushion and fetching a foot-stool.

Over at Mineweb, "Is gold now the contrarian play?" asks Geoff Candy, pretty much answering his own question by asking it, and also noting that analysts pointing to "warning signs" can only find "fairly optimistic" ones for gold prices.

"The one danger with gold is that the bullish consensus on gold is now higher than it's been at any time for the last two or three decades," says former base-metal trader (and Eurocrat nemesis) Nigel Farage, speaking to Eric King. Markets do whatever it takes the screw the most people the most, of course. But while "there is a danger that the short-term speculative market finds itself a bit long of gold," says Farage, the outcome really isn't that bad.

"You can't discount – when a market is shaped that way – that it could have a dip."

Jeez, let's fetch it a towel and a bathrobe! Won't anyone call gold's bull market dead?

"Ten years ago gold was not owned by retail investors but was primarily held by central banks," says UK asset manager Armstrong Investment, overlooking the world's biggest holders both then and now – Indian households. "Strong performance, uncorrelated returns with other asset classes and the advent of easily-accessible ETFs have seen investors make ever-increasing allocations to the precious metal." SocGen strategist Dylan Grice agrees, also noting that "Gold just isn't the misunderstood, widely shunned asset it was a few years ago. Isn't the gold bull market now long in the tooth, with better opportunities to be found elsewhere?"

But again, both analyses find more cause to stay long of gold than sell it, let alone short it. Grice because the real crisis – the final calamity awaiting Western state finances – still awaits. Armstrong because "an allocation to gold [still] makes sense in a diversified portfolio."

Still, "Investors should not view [gold] as a safe haven without its own inherent risks." Most notably because its correlation with equities – the way it moves in (or out) of line with stock markets – has risen to what seems a high level since risk assets bottomed in early 2009.

3-16-12-bv-Gold-SP-Correlation

"Over the long term," says Armstrong, "gold has been a perfect portfolio diversifier – positive returns with no correlation to traditional asset classes. [But] over the past three years gold priceshave shown a correlation of 0.8 with the S&P500."

Now, gold and the US stock market would show a correlation of +1.0 if they moved in lock-step together. They'd show a perfectly negative correlation of –1.0 if they moved in precisely opposition. So the three-year reading of +0.8 does indeed suggest gold has lost a good chunk of its risk-spreading power, moving higher as stocks have also moved up and threatening a sharp drop if equities now lose their mojo.

Look again at the chart, however. Because this strong correlation is hardly unknown. And while the current three-year correlation of +0.8 has been maintained for seven months so far, it was achieved (and breached) for 33 months in 2005-2008...nine months in 1987...and 11 months back in 1980.

What really matters is the huge swings in between. See, all told, and since gold prices began to move freely in the late 1960s, gold has moved in the same direction as stocks – on a quarterly basis – for pretty much half the time. It's gone the other way for pretty much the other half, leaving gold a great diversifier overall. Neither positive nor negative. Just unrelated.

Or as a statistician would put it, the rolling 12-month correlation between Dollar gold and the S&P 500 index has been 0.04. That's as good as zero. There's really very little link between gold and equities long term. And what link there is comes through, say, a strong correlation today, and then strongly inverse correlation tomorrow. Net-net the result comes out at sweet nothing. Provided you buy and hold for the long run, rather than daring to time a move in (or out) on where the latest correlation now stands. Or where you judge the rest of the world to be, relative to the 11-year bull market in gold prices.

Looking to start or add to your gold bullion holdings today...?



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Gold & Precious Metals

The Perfect Contrarian Opportunity: Large Cap Gold Stocks Just Closed at a 52-Week Low

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Posted by Jordan Roy-Byrne

on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 10:24

The S&P 500 is nearing resistance and the precious metals sector is testing its December low. A successful retest of the low in many markets (juniors, metals, silver stocks) should be a signal that the market has confirmed its bottom. Unless you feel the bull market in precious metals is over then you should use this opportunity to be a contrarian. We may not get another buying opportunity like this for a few years. 

PRECIOUS METALS ARE DECOUPLING FROM THE STOCK MARKET

Normally, decoupling from the stock market is a good thing. In recent turbulent times, many have wondered if emerging markets would decouple or if gold stocks would decouple. Its surprising to see gold stocks decouple from a strong stock market. Many wondered if the sector would decouple from a weak market. Yet, the decoupling now could be positive long-term provided the decoupling continues when the stock market peaks just below the 2007-2008 highs.

Below we plot the S&P 500 and the HUI Gold Bugs Index. At the bottom we show the 100-day correlation between the two markets. Note that the correlation has been trending down since the end of 2010. The broad stock market (S&P 500) appears to be headed for a test of major resistance at 1500 while the large cap gold stocks just closed at a 52-week low.

mar18edspxhui

Although large cap gold stocks have closed at a new low, the rest of the sector has not followed suit. The chart below shows GDXJ, the CDNX (Canadian venture exchange) and SIL (silver stocks ETF). While the HUI has closed at a new low, the other markets remain well above their December lows. The CDNX and SIL are showing a strong divergence since October.

mar18edpms

Should most of the precious metals sector hold its December lows then it will be very encouraging for the sector even with the large caps breaking to new lows. One can recall 2007-2008 when the speculative side of the sector fell to new lows well ahead of the metals and the large cap gold stocks. One should also keep the 1970s in mind. Large cap miners experienced significant gains at the start of the bull market but not at the end. Sure, the large caps performed well from 1974-1980 but it was the speculative side of the sector that captured the vast majority of the gains.

Presently, the precious metals sector has underperformed badly as the stock market has continued to move higher. We know that it is highly unlikely the S&P 500 is going to make new highs. In fact, in two of the previous three secular bear markets, the market in the second half of the bear rallied to within 5% of the all-time high before falling back into a mild 4-5 year bear market.  This happened in 1909 and 1976. Profit margins, the most mean reverting statistic in finance are already at record highs. Higher interest rates and higher inflation will cut into profit margins.

Everyone loves stocks now and the masses can forget about gold stocks. This is a perfect contrarian opportunity for precious metals investors. The S&P 500 is nearing resistance and the precious metals sector is testing its December low. A successful retest of the low in many markets (juniors, metals, silver stocks) should be a signal that the market has confirmed its bottom. Unless you feel the bull market in precious metals is over then you should use this opportunity to be a contrarian. We may not get another buying opportunity like this for a few years. We invite you to learn more about our service.

Good Luck!

Jordan Roy-Byrne, CMT
Jordan@TheDailyGold.com">Jordan@TheDailyGold.com" data-mce-href="mailto:Jordan@TheDailyGold.com">Jordan@TheDailyGold.com
TheDailyGold.com



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Gold & Precious Metals

Updated Post Today's Close - Gold & Gold Stocks & New Article

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Posted by Various Authors

on Tuesday, 20 March 2012 15:07

After Mar. 20 Close:

TSE Gold Index Seasonality:

clip image038 thumb1

Via Don & Jon Vialoux's Equity Clock

Good As Gold!

Just as a matter of reference on January 1, 2010 the Dow was at 10,550 so to date it has risen 25.42% while gold has moved from 1,100.00 for a gain 50.54%! So in spite of the Fed’s best efforts to pump the stock market up with a barrage of fiat currency while at the same time suppressing the price of gold with relentless intervention, gold has out performed the Dow two to one!! That tells you all you need to know.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words so if that’s true

goldagain

.....read the rest & view more charts HERE

(also don't miss Mark Leibovits daily gold comment HERE


A Big Relative Decline

Since April of 2011, gold stocks have entered a notable downtrend relative to the prices of gold and silver. Various theories have been advanced as to why this is the case and all of them have some merit (e.g. the fact that 'resource nationalism' is increasing all over the world, that costs are ratcheting higher, that metal-backed ETFs give investors exposure to the metals while avoiding the hassles gold mining companies have to deal with, and so forth).

Screen shot 2012-03-20 at 7.25.44 AM

.....read and view more charts HERE


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Gold & Precious Metals

Canada's Mining Resurgence & 5 Hot Prospects

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Posted by The Gold Report

on Monday, 19 March 2012 12:52

Amid the bustle of the 80th Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention in Toronto, The Gold Report sat down with PDAC President Scott Jobin-Bevans for his take on the challenges the mining industry faces. In this exclusive interview, he covers a wide range of topics, from skilled labor shortages to the trials of mining in remote northern Canada.

COMPANIES MENTIONED: AVALON RARE METALS INC. - MAGMA METALS LTD. - NORTH AMERICAN PALLADIUM LTD. - PROPHECY PLATINUM CORP. - TIEX INC.

The Gold Report: What are the key challenges the mining industry faces in 2012–2013? 

Scott Jobin-Bevans: PDAC, under the leadership of newly appointed Executive Director Ross Gallinger, will be conducting a strategic review involving the board of directors, staff and gathering membership input. There are a number of issues facing the association and the industry, and I am sure that human resources challenges will surface as a key issue. 

TGR: When you say human resources, what are you talking about specifically? 

SJ-B: It's the skilled workforce: geologists, geophysicists, process engineers, mining engineers, miners and skilled labor. There's a huge gap between the young people who are out there now and the older ones who know those skill sets from years ago. For instance, we're nearly missing the 35-to-45 age bracket.

There is a tremendous opportunity for industry associations such as ours, the government, private sector and educators to work together. This is a hugely important sector that represents nearly 3.5% of our national GDP and pays billions of dollars in tax revenue and royalties to the various levels of government. 

It presents an opportunity to university students, but it also presents a challenge to the industry. The Mining Industry Training and Adjustment Council led an industry-sponsored study released in 2005 that found that the Canadian mining and mineral industry would need at least 80,000 people in the next 10 years just to replace current jobs. The industry has grown quite a bit since 2005. So, the estimates in Canada are now something like 100,000 jobs will need to be filled in the next 10 years. 

TGR: Where are those numbers coming from? 

SJ-B: You can find them on the Mining Industry Human Resources Council of Canada's (MiHR's)website. The PDAC supported a more recent sector study by MiHR, "Unearthing Possibilities," which looks specifically at the exploration sector; it's important to understand that mineral exploration is different than the mining sector. In this study, we were able to show how many women are in mineral exploration, how many people are employed overall and the demographics on the age distribution. 

You can see the late '80s downturn in the 35-to-44 age group when the industry and the economy tanked. People left the industry and never came back. You can also see the effect of the Bre-X scandal and market decline in 1997, which saw the departure of record numbers of professionals from the industry. The report does show an increase in the 25-to-34 age group coming into the industry, which is really encouraging. 

The connection between human resources and supplying the metals of tomorrow is that we can still find the mines but we can't put them in production because we simply don't have the people. The only way we survive now is by poaching from other projects, so it's not a healthy environment for industry success. 

PDAC has been making efforts in terms of our support for educating the work force of tomorrow. We have a strong program that we support through PDAC Mining Matters that has helped educate nearly 500,000 school-age children about the sector. We've got a number of university programs and scholarships but the industry needs to do more. 

TGR: What are some of the other challenges facing the industry? 

SJ-B: I'm not sure it's a challenge so much as a new opportunity in Canada in terms of working with First Nations and aboriginal communities, which ties into land access. Canadians are leaders in developing strong dialogues with our aboriginal partners and PDAC is very committed to ensuring our members are equipped and prepared to have those conversations, whether in Canada or abroad. 

TGR: Is this a global issue? 

SJ-B: I think we need to understand this in a different context. This isn't a problem as much as it is a reality that companies need to adjust to. The issue of aboriginal and indigenous people's rights is extremely complex and extends into places like Chile, for example, which is not dealing with the issue to the same degree as Australia or Canada; but it recognizes that it must be dealt with soon. The major mining companies and Codelco, the state-owned enterprise in Chile, haven't had to deal with it because most of their mines are in remote areas where there are very small villages; companies tend to be good corporate citizens by making donations and providing infrastructure and job training to the local villages. But, as the industry expands in Chile, I believe there will be more focused attention on indigenous peoples. 

Another issue is profit sharing and the desire for local communities to want a piece of the pie, a portion of the production royalty. We also see this happening in India, Peru and many other countries, as well as in Canada. India has proposed that iron ore and copper miners set aside 26% of the royalty they pay to states to share with locals affected by mining. The PDAC is in favor of resource revenue sharing as long as it is introduced in a fair and sustainable manner. 

TGR: On another subject, Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver spoke at PDAC. Do you think we'll ever see a national securities regulator, like the SEC in the U.S.? 

SJ-B: PDAC supports having a single regulatory system administered by one regulator, applying one set of rules in a consistent manner across Canada. We would welcome a one-window central process. But it isn't easy because each province has the right to control the regulatory process and collect fees in its own jurisdiction. This results in duplication and higher cost for financings and ongoing compliance. We need to have a system that allows all potential Canadian investors the equal opportunity to participate. 

TGR: What is another industry challenge? 

SJ-B: Mine permitting and the related regulatory process. This is a global issue. Governments often don't have the capacity to administer their own acts and legislation. I believe we are going to see this capacity issue in Ontario with the current revision of its Mining Act. We see capacity issues in British Columbia and the Yukon Territory, largely brought on by increased industry activity and record mineral claim staking. We also see a lack of capacity within the provincial governments and within First Nation governments to deal with the required paperwork, which is becoming more and more onerous. Minister Oliver spoke at length about this at the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia Roundup in January and again at the PDAC Convention. He believes that regulation should be practical, useful and not overly bureaucratic, and I, for one, support that. 

Another example is Finland. Finland is a great jurisdiction for mining. It embraces and promotes it. The GTK or Geological Survey of Finland actively maps, explores and even drills holes to build up resources, which it then puts out to auction. It recently introduced a new mining act and at the same time made changes to staff size and location, which almost overnight resulted in license granting going from a 6–12 month window to a 3–5 year time frame to establish land tenure. This is very discouraging to mineral exploration companies thinking about investing exploration dollars in Finland. My recent discussions during the PDAC convention with the Federal government does suggest that they are committed to improving the system in the very near future.

TGR: I guess this makes Ontario and Nevada look better all the time. 

SJ-B: Finland still beat Ontario in the Fraser Institute's annual survey of the best jurisdictions for mining in the world. We also saw New Brunswick being ranked as number one and for the first time ever we saw Ireland in the top 10 along with the Yukon Territory. 

The survey ranks jurisdictions on things like administration, corruption, environmental regulation, duplication, fair trade, transparency, taxation etc. The most recent survey came out in the last few weeks.

TGR: Northern Ontario's Ring of Fire region includes chromite, base metals and gold deposits. There are billions of dollars of potential revenue there, but there is zero infrastructure. You have to have rail to get the minerals out of there. All these different deposits have been found and they have NI 43-101 resources on them, but they're not going anywhere. 

SJ-B: I think we have to see the various levels of government as partners in the extraction of our mineral wealth and my view is that there really is an opportunity for the government to partner with industry and help build infrastructure in the north. There is a huge discovery that could be world-class size. The potential for northern development—for wealth generation in the province—is very real. I think both federal and provincial governments are still recovering from the financial crisis and at this point are not able to invest the dollars today for the long term in spite of the economic development opportunities that exist. Economic development is all based on favorable returns and future earnings through increased taxation and other revenue, and right now governments have a tremendous opportunity to show that measure of foresight for this industry. 

We think that we finally got the Feds to understand the importance of mining to this country. We have had Minister Oliver at the conference, a record number of members of Parliament, members of Provincial Parliaments, senators and we were really pleased to see Jean Charest, the Premier of Québec, join us at the conference. 

TGR: Most of the readers of The Gold Report are precious metals investors. Can we talk about your personal view as to what you see as opportunities for North American investors right now who like resource stocks? What are some of the commodities that you see really gaining traction in 2012? Do you see particular interest in micro caps, in the near-term producing stories? 

SJ-B: Certainly, I'm in agreement with gold and silver being the mainstay of the industry and, of course, copper. There's a big push with anything having to do with country- or economy-building commodities, iron ore, for instance. Rare earth minerals are a complicated commodity, but I think a lot is going to happen in that space. 

For example, Germany canceled its nuclear power program and is now having to look for alternative green energy. It recently created an alliance for securing critical raw materials after it essentially closed down the mining and metals industry 20 years ago, thinking that mining was a sunset industry. 

TGR: Well, it's pretty clear that Europe is waking up to the idea that these critical metals are very important for growing clean energy. 

SJ-B: For sure. Germany is a good case in point because the German market is really hunting for those metals, not only for internal consumption but also for building the technologies that it exports. To produce a windmill for instance, you need neodymium for the magnets and so a source for this rare metal needs to be secured to be a successful producer. The Germans asked Canada what we have. Well, the short answer is nothing because we basically shut down all of those operations years ago. To bring any production on-line in the near term is going to be very costly. 

Look at Thor Lake's Avalon Rare Metals Inc. (AVL:TSX; AVL:NYSE; AVARF:OTCQX).

sc-2

PDAC Director Don Bubar is heading up the company and PDAC Past President Bill Mercer is also involved. Avalon has a great story, a great deposit in Thor Lake. Infrastructure-wise it is fairly remote. In the global size of rare earth deposits, it's small and has a very specialized suite of minerals that are desirable, but it will take very high production costs to extract and build a plant. Doing that in Canada is challenging. I don't believe that there is enough critical mass in Canada to justify such a high capital expenditure. I am, of course, always hopeful that it will work, but it's not like a copper or nickel discovery or a base-metal discovery where you have five or six deposits in one general area that you can then aggregate to feed a smelter or a processing facility. In the case of most rare earths in Canada you have a relatively small deposit with complex metallurgical challenges that would be feeding a $1 billion production facility. 

TGR: How do you feel about copper, silver and gold? 

SJ-B: Canada is a fantastic jurisdiction in which to explore and I think people are realizing that we still have the opportunity to make discoveries in commodities like copper. We're seeing the copper porphyry business come back to British Columbia (B.C.) with interest from Newmont Mining Corp. (NEM:NYSE). We've also got interest in the region from Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (FCX:NYSE) and even BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP:NYSE; BHPLF:OTCPK) is known to be watching the area. The majors are taking note of projects that until recently have been considered too small a target for copper-gold or copper-moly porphyries. I'm involved with junior explorer Tiex Inc. (TIX:TSX.V) working in B.C. in the Quesnel Trough.

sc-4

We believe we are sitting on a brand new Cu-Au porphyry discovery that is off-trend from the traditional Quesnel Trough past producers. We have another project that is right next to Spanish Mountain Gold Ltd. (SPA:TSX.V), so there is great gold in sediment opportunities. 

Overall, I would say that we are seeing a resurgence in Canada. Most people I speak to are saying it's a great opportunity for copper-gold in B.C. and gold in the Yukon, and strong interest continues in Quebec and Nunavut. I find B.C. is particularly interesting because it has a recent track record of actually permitting mines. With almost half of Canada's proposed mining projects located in B.C., it has shown the industry that exploration and development projects can be moved into mine permitting–a step that many other jurisdictions in Canada are failing to make. Plus, in Canada you've got diamonds, and we are well positioned to become the third-largest diamond producer in the world. 

TGR: Do you mean the third-largest producer by value? 

SJ-B: Yes, we do produce some of the highest quality diamonds in the world, but we are also gaining on total production with additional projects turning into mines. In terms of gold, we still have the prolific Abitibi gold camps in Ontario and Quebec. I think around half of the Abitibi Greenstone Belt is covered by clays and impermeable surface material that you can't see through with traditional exploration techniques such as geophysics and geochemistry. So you have to drill it. This is the world's largest continuous greenstone belt with some 160 million ounces of production with about 50% of it covered. So the opportunities for gold and base metals in that region alone in Canada are huge. 

TGR: You are saying that investors looking for opportunities in the junior mining space have plenty of opportunities in their own backyard? 

SJ-B: Absolutely. Canada is politically stable, reasonably well regulated and has a fairly streamlined process to put the mines into production. Minister Oliver said he is committed to making the process even tighter. So, it will become a less-than-two-year process. 

Also on the list of metals to watch, I would add platinum group metals (PGM). 

TGR: In Canada or elsewhere?

SJ-B: In Canada. I think that although we have a high palladium-to-platinum ratio in our deposits, it's usually 2:1 or 3:1. The sustained price in platinum, and now palladium, is great for the industry. 

TGR: What are the names in that space? 

SJ-B: There are Magma Metals Ltd. (MMW:TSX; MMW:ASX) 

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and North American Palladium Ltd. (PDL:TSX; PAL:NYSE) near Thunder Bay. North American Palladium is our only producer.

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Also there isProphecy Platinum Corp. (NKL:TSX.V; PNIKD:OTCPK; P94P:FSE), which is working on a project in the Yukon and on projects in northern Manitoba. 

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TGR: There are definite supply and demand issues with PGM because of conflict in South Africa. 

SJ-B: South Africa controls 80% to 90% of the world's platinum. And Russia still has a significant portion of the world's palladium. But, my consulting group does not have clients in South Africa because there are issues in working in that jurisdiction that most junior exploration companies are not comfortable with. Most of our work in Africa is elsewhere such as Tanzania, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana and Mali. There has been a big rise in interest from Canadian companies in Western Africa. I also predict that we can see a significant increase in interest from Canadian explorers and investors in the Dominican Republic.

TGR: Well, that's another whole topic. 

SJ-B: It is. For example, we are seeing Sierra Leone coming back on the map in a big way. 

TGR: I think that is a perfect ending to today's conversation. Thank you so much, Scott. 

Scott Jobin-Bevans is the president and a director of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) and an exploration geologist with more than 20 years of mineral exploration industry experience. He is a director and founding partner of Caracle Creek International Consulting Inc. (CCIC) where from 2001–2008 he served as managing director. Since May 2011 he has been at Caracle Creek as a director and vice president of corporate development, Latin America. He is also a director of numerous companies including Maudore Minerals Ltd., Tiex Inc., Strike Minerals Inc., Jiminex Inc., Lakeside Minerals, Mukuba Resources Ltd., Ateba Resources Inc. and Northern Skye Resources Ltd. Jobin-Bevans has also served as president, CEO and a director of Treasury Metals Inc., vice president of exploration of Takara Resources Inc., a director of Absolut Resources Corp. and vice president of exploration of Pacific North West Capital Corp.

Want to read more exclusive Gold Report interviews like this? Sign up for our free e-newsletter, and you'll learn when new articles have been published. To see a list of recent interviews with industry analysts and commentators, visit our Exclusive Interviews page.

DISCLOSURE: 
1) Sally Lowder and Brian Sylvester of The Gold Report conducted this interview. They personally and/or their families own shares of the following companies mentioned in this interview: None.
2) The following companies mentioned in the interview are sponsors of The Gold Report: Prophecy Platinum Corp. Streetwise Reports does not accept stock in exchange for services.
3) Scott Jobin-Bevans: I personally and/or my family own shares of the following companies mentioned in this interview: Lakeside Minerals, Tiex Inc., Ateba Resources, Mukuba Resources. I personally and/or my family am paid by the following companies mentioned in this interview: Caracle Creek International Consulting Inc.; Northern Skye Resources Inc. I was not paid by Streetwise Reports for participating in this story.



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Gold & Precious Metals

This Could Spark a Massive Move in Gold

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Posted by Jeff Clark via Peter Grandich

on Friday, 16 March 2012 05:48

Get ready for a golden summer.
 
Precious metals have been selling off lately. Gold is down 10% from its peak last August, including a violent $100 drop last Tuesday. Silver is down almost 30% since its peak last April. It dropped 6% in just one day last week.

20120313 GSW_SILVER1



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