Gold and silver shares remained firmly in negative territory Wednesday afternoon following the release of the latest Federal Reserve Beige Book – which provided investors with a final glimpse into the minds of the U.S. central bank prior to Chairman Ben Bernanke’s much-anticipated speech in Jackson Hole at the end of this week.
A recap of economic activity from each of the Federal Reserve’s 12 districts, the Beige Book noted that “economic activity continued to expand gradually in July and early August across most regions and sectors” of the U.S.
This language stood in contrast to that of the previous version of the Beige Book, in which the Fed stated that the economy was expanding at a “modest to moderate pace.”
The change in terminology indicates that economic growth has slowed in recent months, which could give the Fed more leeway to launch a third round of quantitative easing (QE3).
Additional highlights from the Beige Book noted that:
- “Most Districts indicated that retail activity, including auto sales, had increased since the last Beige Book report”
- “Many Districts reported some softening in manufacturing, either a slowdown in the rate of growth or a decline in the level of sales, output, or orders”
- “Hiring was said to be modest across the Districts, and wage pressures were characterized as contained”
Despite the Beige Book’s mixed tone, precious metals and gold and silver stocks extended their losses in afternoon trading. The Philadelphia Gold & Silver Index (XAU) slid 1.1% to 164.38, bringing its weekly loss to 2.4%.
Within the sector, notable stocks underperforming the XAU included Harmony Gold (HMY), Kinross Gold (KGC), and Pan American Silver (PAAS). HMY retreated by 4.0% to $9.04, KGC by 1.7% to $8.64, and PAAS by 1.9% to $16.86 per share.
As for the metals themselves, gold futures settled down by $6.70, or 0.4%, at $1,663.00 per ounce on the COMEX while silver futures fell $0.20, or 0.7%, to $30.77 per ounce.