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Police arrest miners rescued from abandoned gold mine

Twenty-four miners have been freed from an illegal gold mine in South Africa , while others refuse to come out for fear of being arrested, authorities said.

The miners were rescued Monday after spending two days trapped in the illegal mine, CNN reported.

About six miners remain in the mine because they feared being arrested, said rescuers from ER24 emergency medical service. A miner that left the mine was trying to persuade those remaining in the mine to come out.

Those who have been rescued received medical attention and then were taken into police custody, ER24 said.

The BBC reported that the men are believed to have become trapped Saturday when a rival group of miners stole some of their gold haul and then blocked a ventilation shaft being used to access the mine with rocks. Police heard the men’s cries for help when patrolling the area Sunday.

Copyright 2014 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Gold closes near $1,320; best week in 6 months

Gold futures settled more that 1 percent higher on Friday, posting its biggest weekly gain in six months as a series of weak U.S. data throughout the week raised fears about economic growth, hurting the dollar.

“Gold continues to trade extremely well, and it is basically taking out one key resistance level after the other,” BofA Merrill Lynch analyst Michael Widmer said.

“Fundamentally, in terms of having a sustained theme that should take gold higher, be it on the inflation side, on the monetary side, or currency side, I still don’t see one, but for now it’s hard to argue against it.”

Name Price Change %Change Volume
GOLD Gold (Apr’14) 1318.60 18.50 1.42% 140268
GOLD/USD Gold / US Dollar Spot 1318.3101
UNCH 0%
SILV/USD Silver / US Dollar Spot 21.44 -0.02 -0.09%
SILVER Silver (Mar’14) 21.421 1.026 5.03% 59921
PALL/USD Palladium / US Dollar Spot 736.12 1.62 0.22%
PLAT/USD Platinum / US Dollar Spot 1421.66 -2.59 -0.18%

Spot gold was up last 1.2 percent at $1,318 an ounce after rising to its highest since Nov. 7 at $1,320.90, up for an eighth straight session.

U.S. gold futures for April delivery settled $18.50 higher, at $1,318.60 an ounce, up 4.2 percent for the week in its largest such gain since mid-August.

The dollar fell 0.2 percent versus a basket of currencies, having hit its lowest since Jan. 2 earlier, as data showed U.S. manufacturing output and factory production fell in January and recorded their biggest drop since 2009.

Gold has gained nearly 9 percent since the beginning of the year, after a 28 percent drop in 2013 on doubts over the U.S. economic recovery and as emerging-market turmoil weighed on some equity markets.

Analysts remain cautious over the medium-term outlook for gold, however. Many expect the U.S. economy to recover and the dollar to rally, making the investment case for gold, usually seen as a safe haven in times of trouble, still unattractive.

“As positive as we remain on the American currency and the U.S. economy in 2014 (especially once macro estimates rebound as the weather effect passes), there is little point fighting the short-term uptrend,” VTB Capital said in a note.

2014 Sochi Olympics: Sage Kotsenburg’s ‘Holy Crail’ produces first U.S. gold

Nobody in the 12-man field of finalists could top him. Kotsenburg put the first gold medal of the Sochi Games into the “USA” column. Soon after, he and the other medalists, Staale Sandbech of Norway and Mark McMorris of Canada, were hugging, body-slamming and turning their sport’s “Kiss and Cry” zone into a mosh pit.

“I kind of do random stuff all the time, never make a plan up,” Kotsenburg said. “I had no idea I was even going to do a 1620 in my run until three minutes before I dropped. It’s kind of what I’m all about.”

Kotsenburg’s jump was the high point of yet another sunny, windless day at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. Combining all that, along with a bit of half-expected, half-legitimate griping about the judging, made it easy to forget that Shaun White had pulled out of this event before qualifying, complaining about the toughness of the course.

White, one of the most cutting-edge innovators in the game, was practicing on the halfpipe below when Kotsenburg landed a trick nobody had seen in a bona fide contest.

“Never even tried it before,” Kotsenburg said. “Never, ever tried it in my life.”

Despite the excitement of that trick, there was some head-scratching going on elsewhere.

Sandbech, McMorris and Winter X Games champion Max Parrot were among those who threw the much-ballyhooed triple cork, which is three head-over-heels flips — considered way more dangerous and athletic and presumed to be the must-have trick to win the first Olympic gold in this sport’s history.

Sage Kotsenburg (AP Photo)

Kotsenburg never tried one.

There are, of course, seven or eight tricks in every run — boxes to jump on, rails to ride over and even the option to jump over the giant Russian nesting doll near the top of the course. Splashes and bobbles on any of them can cost precious points.

But rider after rider came off the course and concluded that Kotsenburg’s win symbolized a shift in the sport; that judges are looking for more technical moves with so-called style rather than a simple gymnastics meet on the snow.

“I think definitely Mark and Staale did some runs that should’ve scored higher. Sage had some really creative stuff. But whatever,” said Canada’s Sebastien Toutant, who finished ninth. “They’re all homeys. They deserved it. The sport is getting judged by humans and life goes on.”

Sandbech celebrated his clean triple cork at the bottom by swan diving into the snow.

The crowd loved it. The judges only gave it a 91.75.

“It was kind of hard from the start to know what the judges were awarding for,” he said.

As recently as a month ago, McMorris was considered a favorite to win the gold, whether White showed up at the contest or not.

But he broke a rib after slamming into a rail during the finals of the Winter X Games two weeks ago. There was some thought he’d wear a Kevlar vest to protect himself, but no.

He thought his run might get a higher mark than the 88.75 he received. Didn’t happen.

Then, he was sure he’d been knocked off the podium when Parrot, also from Canada, went last and also landed the triple. Parrot finished fifth.

“If you ride the best you can ride, and you’re satisfied with that, the rest is up to the judges,” McMorris said. “To be honest, that’s the least of my worries. I’m just really, really thankful, from where I was two weeks ago, to be on the podium.”

Kotsenburg is, too.

When he was a kid, he went to snowboarding camp in Oregon and Mike Jankowski, the coach there and now the coach of the U.S. team, tried to coax kids away from the big features and over to the halfpipe, where the fundamentals are taught.

Wasn’t so easy with this kid. He always wanted to do the jumps.

“For Sage, that’s what he’s about,” Jankowski said. “It’s keeping snowboarding fun, whether the judges like his run, whether he gets a high score or a low score.”

 

olympics

Gold Pushes Above $1,300, At 3-Month High

Gold prices were trading slightly higher in afternoon U.S. dealings Thursday. In late-morning action April gold futures prices poked above the key $1,300.00 level to provide the bulls with an additional dash of upside near-term technical momentum. Indeed, the gold market bulls are enjoying the slight near-term technical advantage for the first time in months. April gold was last up $3.70 at $1,298.70 an ounce. Spot gold was last quoted up $7.00 at $1,299.25. March Comex silver last traded up $0.019 at $20.36 an ounce.

Gold’s price gains this week are especially impressive given the rally in the U.S. stock indexes that have put the stock market bulls back in near-term technical control. Gold and equities are competing asset classes for investors’ monies. While the rebounds in the U.S. stock indexes have been impressive, this 30-year chart watcher says beware: The indexes could be setting themselves up for technically bearish double-top reversal patterns forming on the daily bar charts. In big bull runs, many times markets prices will back down from their for-the-move highs only to rebound strongly and challenge those highs (or even poke to new highs), and then back down again to form a bearish double-top reversal pattern on the daily chart, and begin to trend lower.

U.S. economic data released Thursday favored the weaker side of expectations—especially a downbeat retail sales report, and that also was a positive for the precious metals markets. Recent weaker U.S. economic data bolsters notions the Fed will be constrained in its efforts to “taper” its monthly bond buying (called quantitative easing). The specter of tapering has been a bearish underlying factor for the raw commodity sector the past few months.

The London P.M. gold fix is $1,296.00 versus the P.M. fixing of $1,289.50.

Technically, April gold futures Thursday hit a more-than-three-month high and a six-week-old uptrend is in place on the daily bar chart. The gold bulls have the slight near-term technical advantage and their next upside near-term price breakout objective is to produce a close above technical resistance at $1,325.00. Bears’ next near-term downside breakout price objective is closing prices below technical support at this week’s low of $1,264.70. First resistance is seen at Thursday’s high of $1,300.60 and then at $1,310.00. First support is seen at Thursday’s low of $1,286.20 and then at $1,280.00.

March silver futures bears still have the overall near-term technical advantage, but the bulls have gained some upside momentum recently. Prices have been trading sideways at lower price levels for the past two months.  Silver bulls’ next upside price breakout objective is closing prices above solid technical resistance at the January high of $20.67 an ounce. The next downside price breakout objective for the bears is closing prices below solid technical support at the January low of $18.97. First resistance is seen at Thursday’s high of $20.39 and then at $20.48. Next support is seen at Thursday’s low of $20.12 and then at this week’s low of $19.915.

India’s trade deficit narrowed in January

India’s trade deficit narrowed in January, thanks to the country’s strict import controls on gold imports. But analysts are warning that even though the figures are less alarming, now is not the time to let bullion back in.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) imposed tough rules on gold imports last year in an attempt to tackle the country’s crippling current account deficit.

India was among many of the emerging markets that saw their currencies get battered when the U.S. Federal Reserve first floated the idea of tapering its quantitative easing program last summer.

The country’s record current account deficit, which showed a $87.8 billion shortfall, in the previous fiscal year to March 2013, had caused the Indian currency’s dramatic fall.

To correct the rupee’s fall , and improve the country’s balance of trade, RBI governor Raghuram Rajan imposed import controls on gold. And it looks as though it has worked: Figures from the Indian trade ministry on Tuesday showed that the trade deficit fell from $10.14 billion in December to $9.92 billion last month, helped by a 77 percent fall in gold and silver imports.

(Read moreIndia’s economy is out of the woods: ICICI CEO)

Analysts are predicting that could ease the gold import restrictions after the positive trade data.

“India is a huge importer of gold. At a retail level, Indians love gold,” Rajiv Biswas, senior director and Asia-Pacific chief economist at IHS Global, told CNBC in a TV interview.

“I think there are signs of progress with reducing the trade and current account deficits in India and knowing that it’s very hard to restrict this demand indefinitely, they probably feel it’s time to start easing back on the controls.”

Biswas said however that the RBI would not completely ax the restrictions, but ease them slowly.

Dhiraj Singh | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The RBI is expecting to review their import policy towards the end of March, but was not able to respond for a comment.

‘Rash move’

The debate in India over whether the import restrictions should be eased has been raging on. Last month, India’s Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi asked the government to review the policy while the country’s jewellery industry is calling for a cut in the 10 percent import duty on gold, which they claim is hurting their business.

(Read moreRaghuram Rajan: India’s deficit is under control)

India’s Finance Minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram told CNBC in Davos last month that the country will not rollback its gold import rules.

However, the gold import restrictions have largely helped keep the rupee stable amid the latest emerging market currency sell-off and any reversal of the rules would be a “rash” move, according to Mark Williams, chief Asia economist at Capital Economics.

“I still expect them to stick with the controls at least for the time being, but a reversal of those controls would run a high risk of signalling run off on rupee,” Williams told CNBC in a phone interview.

Move on gold price?

The gold price plummeted 28 percent in 2013 as the global economy improved. If the import restrictions in India were to be lifted, there is no guarantee that the price would see an uplift, despite strong demand for the precious metal.

(Read moreIndia lifts interest rates, says further tightening unlikelysoon)

“The gold price had collapsed prior to India bringing down the shutters in July and the price went sideways in the back half. The Indian trade restrictions didn’t do anything,” Adrian Ash, head of research at BullionVault, said in a phone interview.

“The fact is that the price of the margin is still set by western investment demand.”

US Wages Increase

Consumers last month were more optimistic their wages would rise, and expected to spend more this year, according to survey results Monday from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Americans also expected inflation to slow somewhat to 3% in the coming year, the district bank’s Survey of Consumer Expectations said.

Last month, the bank released the first results of its new monthly survey on consumer confidence.

PHOTOS: Federal Reserve chairs through the years

The latest survey, conducted in January, found that consumers expected their earnings to grow by 2.4% over the next year. The figure was up from 1.8% in December.

Consumers expected to spend only some of that money. The survey found they anticipated their spending to rise at a slower pace: 4.85% over the next year, up from 4.66% growth in December.

Expectations for the labor market improved as well. The probability of finding a job increased to 49% in January, from 46% the previous month, the survey reported.

But Americans’ view of the probability of losing their job was little changed, it said — 16.74% expected to be fired or laid off last month compared with 16.79% in December.

 

http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-consumer-confidence-federal-reserve-economy-20140210,0,5783914.story#ixzz2sx7lRobM

Gold Futures Advance After U.S. Payrolls Rise Less Than Expected

Gold futures rose for a third straight day, capping the biggest weekly advance in a month after U.S. payrolls increased less than economists expected.

The 113,000 gain in employment followed a revised 75,000 increase the prior month, Labor Department figures showed. The median forecast of economists in a Bloomberg survey called for a 180,000 advance. The jobless rate “remains elevated,” according to the Federal Reserve, which last month said it will trim monthly bond buying by $10 billion to $65 billion.

“Gold definitely got a bid to it from the weaker numbers,” Frank McGhee, the head dealer at Integrated Brokerage Services LLC in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “What remains to be seen is if this is a one-off thing or the economy is showing signs of weakness.”

Gold futures April delivery added 0.5 percent to settle at $1,262.90 an ounce at 1:52 p.m. on the Comex in New York. The metal gained 1.9 percent this week, the most since Jan. 3.

Bullion rose 70 percent from December 2008 to June 2011 as the Fed pumped more than $2 trillion into the financial system. Prices fell for the first time since 2000 last year as some investors lost faith in the metal as a store of value.

Silver futures for delivery in March climbed less than 0.1 percent to $19.936 an ounce. The commodity rose 4.3 percent over five straight days, the longest rally and biggest weekly gain since August.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, platinum futures for April delivery increased 0.3 percent to $1,379.20 an ounce.

Wage negotiations between the world’s three largest platinum producers and a South African union were suspended Feb. 5 without a settlement. South African police used rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse striking workers at an Anglo American Platinum Ltd. mine in violent protests that left one person dead, the labor group said today.

Palladium futures for delivery in March fell 0.2 percent to $708.80 an ounce.

Treasuries Decline as U.S. Stocks Retreat, Silver Gains

Treasuries fell, sending 10-year yields up from almost a three-month low, and U.S. stocks ended lower as investors dissected reports showing growth in jobs and acceleration in service industries. Silver and gold paced gains in commodities.

Ten-year yields increased four basis points to 2.67 percent while the S&P 500 slipped 0.2 percent to 1,751.64 at 4 p.m. in New York, trimming an earlier loss of as much as 1 percent. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index increased 0.1 percent and the MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 0.7 percent. The S&P GSCI Index of 24 raw materials rose 0.1 percent as coffee jumped 5 percent on supply concerns and silver climbed more than 2 percent. Greek 10-year yields declined 29 basis points on speculation bailout terms will be eased. Japan’s currency rose against 13 of its 16 major counterparts.

Companies in the U.S. boosted payrolls by 175,000 in January, according to a report from ADP Research Institute two days before the government’s monthly jobs data. About $3 trillion has been erased from equities worldwide this year amid a selloff in emerging-market currencies as China’s economy slows and the Federal Reserve cuts stimulus. The improving U.S. economy may warrant faster tapering of quantitative easing, Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser said today.

Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

Pedestrians are silhouetted as they wait to cross a road in front of an electronic… Read More

“The data is pretty encouraging; that’s obviously a good thing for the economy as a whole,” Thomas Simons, a government-debt economist in New York at Jefferies LLC, one of 21 primary dealers that trade with the Fed, said of the ISM report. The market is “looking to Friday for direction.”

Jobs Data

The private ADP report precedes the Labor Department’s payrolls data on Feb. 7. Payrolls rose 74,000 in December, missing the median analyst projection for an increase of 197,000. The Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing index increased to 54 in January from 53 the prior month. Readings greater than 50 signal expansion. The median forecast of 78 respondents in a survey called for a reading of 53.7. Estimates ranged from 52 to 55. Not including today’s numbers, the index has averaged 53.8 since the recession ended in June 2009.

Plosser, who votes on policy this year, said he expects the economy to expand 3 percent in 2014 as the jobless rate falls to 6.2 percent by year-end, warranting a quicker tapering to bond purchases by the central bank.

Policy makers made the first two cuts to asset purchases in December and January, slowing to $65 billion a month from $85 billion. While welcoming the trims, Plosser said they “may prove to be insufficient” if growth keeps accelerating.

The S&P 500 is down more than 5.2 percent in 2014 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen 6.8 percent. Benchmark indexes rebounded yesterday after the S&P 500 slid 2.3 percent on Feb. 3 to close at the lowest level since October.

 

silver

dollar gains, equities rebound

Gold for April delivery GCJ4 -0.64%  fell $9.20, or 0.7%, to $1,250.70 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. March silver SIH4 +0.01% shed 6 cents, or 0.3%, to $19.345 an ounce.


AFP/Getty Images

Gold plunged 28% in 2013 but has rebounded by around 4% since the beginning of the year on haven-related buying as global equity markets retreated. Gold gains, however, have been limited by a resilient dollar, which has also been underpinned by haven-related buying, said Fawad Razaqzada, analyst at Forex.com.

A stronger dollar can undercut dollar-priced commodities, making them more expensive for nondollar users. On Tuesday, thegreenback rebounded against the Japanese yen.

“But if the recent soft patch in U.S. data continues, then calls for a pause or slower pace of unwinding [quantitative easing] will only increase, which may cause the dollar to tumble. That, in turn, could help underpin gold and silver more significantly,” Razaqzada said in a note.

For now, adding pressure to both gold and silver prices, U.S. stocks climbed Tuesday , on the back of sharp losses in the previous session.

Metals-mining shares followed gold lower, with the Philadelphia Gold and Silver IndexXAU -0.24%  losing 0.6%. The SPDR Gold Trust exchange-traded fund GLD -0.42%  lost 0.7%.

Gold sentiment gauge drops

In January, sentiment toward gold bullion declined, according to BullionVault. Its Gold Investor Index, which measures the balance of BullionVault’s buyers over sellers, slipped to its lowest level since July 2012 — to 51.9 from 52.9 in December.

That decline came even as gold prices recorded their first monthly gain in five months. A reading above 50 indicates more buyers than sellers.

“The stand-out choice last month was to do nothing, sitting on whatever physical gold bullion holdings clients had already built,” said Adrian Ash, head of research at BullionVault. “No surprise perhaps. Long-term gold and silver investors typically prefer to buy cheap, or at least when the market is quiet as opposed to making headlines.”

Gold futures on Monday jumped by more than $20 an ounce, propelled by a disappointing report on U.S. manufacturing and a brutal session for equities that helped bring the precious metal into positive territory for the first time in three sessions.

U.S. manufacturers expanded in January at the slowest rate in eight months as the pace of new orders sharply decelerated. The Institute for Supply Management index sank to 51.3% from 56.5% in December. That is the lowest level since last May and enough to draw investors to gold.

But on Tuesday, gold prices briefly added to their losses after data on U.S. factory orders showed a fall of 1.5% in December, which was less than expected.

Edward Meir, analyst at INTL FCStone, said markets are likely to remain unsettled ahead of Friday’s jobs report.

“We continue to suspect that the global equity markets will likely see more turbulence in February,” he wrote, “which likely will mean that gold should be fairly resilient for a little while longer.”

Also on Comex Tuesday, April platinum PLJ4 -0.90%  lost $17.30, or 1.3%, to $1,369.30 an ounce while March palladium PAH4 -0.64%  gave up $1.85, or 0.3%, to $700.85 an ounce.

High-grade copper for March delivery HGH4 +0.33%  rose a penny to $3.19 a pound after losing 0.4% a day earlier.

Nevada gold mine cited for 61 violations

RENO, Nev. (AP) — An assistant U.S. secretary of labor is criticizing a Nevada gold mine for failing to protect its workers after federal inspectors issued 61 citations and orders for health and safety violations at Elko County’s Jerritt Canyon mine.

A new inspection report notes that the mine’s owner, Veris Gold , didn’t have to notify the Mining Safety and Health Administration when an electrical explosion and fire injured two employees at Jerritt Canyonon Dec. 16 . That’s because MSHA inspectors already were on the site documenting a laundry list of infractions.

They included a blocked emergency escape route, faulty pressure relief valves and improperly stored hazardous chemicals.

Assistant Secretary Joseph Main singled out the Nevada mine and another in West Virginia as two examples that show “some mine operators still don’t get it.”

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