Precious Metals Decline, Fed Still Set to Taper This Year?

GOLD

On Wednesday, gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) futures for August delivery fell $15.00 to close at $1,319.17 per ounce, while silver (NYSEARCA:SLV) futures for September declined 23 cents to finish at $20.02.

Both precious metals retreated as the housing recovery story received another positive data point. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, purchases of new homes — measured by contracts signed — jumped 8.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted 497,000 unit annual pace in June, compared to the downwardly revised May rate of 459,000 units.

It was the best month for new home sales since May 2008. Home sales are up 38.1 percent, compared to a year earlier.

New home sales have increased for four consecutive months, and easily beat expectations. Economists polled by Reuters expected new home sales to rise to a rate of 482,000 units in June, while the median estimate of 77 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a pace of 484,000 units.

For some, the report reinforced expectations that the Federal Reserve will reduce its bond purchases later this year. Christopher Vecchio, currency analyst at DailyFX, explains, “The US housing market is in a state of flux, with the June New Home Sales report handily beating expectations, and therefore serving as the first counterpoint to signs of erosion elsewhere. The 8.3 percent print easily beat the 1.7 percent expectation, and despite the slight downward revision in the prior, the report, overall, holds a positive undertone. Investors have taken the data as a modest notch in the ‘pro-taper’ column.”

By the end of the trading day, shares of the SPDR Gold Trust (NYSEARCA:GLD) fell 1.7 percent, while iShares Silver Trust (NYSEARCA:SLV) dropped 1.5 percent. Gold miners (NYSEARCA:GDX), such as Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX) and Yamana Gold (NYSE:AUY), both plunged more than 5 percent. Shares of Endeavour Silver (NYSE:EXK) decreased 6.5 percent.

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Disclosure: Long EXK, AG, HL, PHYS