Sharp declines in the early part of the reporting period May 16-22 socked stock markets in the United States, and the mining stocks suffered a large part of the damage. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down 27.42 points, to 1,262.07, a loss of 2.1% on the five trading days, while almost all metal producers lost ground.
Musings from the Federal Reserve Bank’s chairman, Ben Bernanke, that the Bank might hold the line on further interest-rate increases shook confidence in the dollar, rather than bolstering confidence in the equity markets. The result was one of the steepest drops in the U.S. stock markets in three years.
At the same time, gold lost a toehold on the wall of worry, and bullion prices plunged US$42 per oz. between the afternoon fix on May 18 and the corresponding session on May 19. That was a cold shower for gold equities, which had been beaten up the previous week in any event.
The senior gold stocks all fell, with Gold Fields, down US$2.65 at US$20.55, taking the worst tumble in proportion to value. Newmont Mining fell US$3.47 to US$50.84, AngloGold Ashanti US$3.20 to US$47.10, and Harmony Gold Mining US76 to US$13.29.
The middle tier of gold producers, which took most of the punishment last week, lost ground again. Minas Buenaventura slid US$2.57 to US$24.73 and Hecla Mining fell back US27 to US$4.81.
In the midst of the chaos, the white goods stayed strong for most of the period; platinum was down only US$15 and palladium US$19, with most of that decline on the last day of the period. Nobody told Stillwater Mining, which fell another US$1.30 to US$13.60 and seems to have broken out of a year-long uptrend.
The big base metal producers had a bad week too, headed by Southern Peru Copper, which saw 16% of its market value chopped; it fell US$13.40 to US$81.90. Comparable misery was dealt out to Anglo American, which was off US$2.77 at US$18.45, while Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold slid US$7.23 to US$54.27 and Phelps Dodge dropped US$9.76 to US$79.49.
U.S. greatest percentage change
|Bullion Rvr G*||BLRV||1257||0.95||0.81||0.90||+8.4|
U.S. greatest value change
|Fording C C T*||FDG||3243900||33.80||+0.85|
U.S. most active issues
|Coeur d Alene*||CDE||36168||5.35||4.51||4.71||-0.46|