Shares of Hecla Mining (NYSE:HL) were plummeting to the tune of almost 25% on news that the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration ordered closed the mile-deep Silver Shaft at its Lucky Friday mine in Idaho to remove sand, rock and debris that has built up as a result of a rock burst in mid-December. The mine is expected to remain under “temporary care and maintenance” through year’s end.
Gold was slightly higher and silver marginally lower in Wednesday morning trading, as the market appeared to be taking a breather after Tuesday’s strong showing. Eurozone sovereign debt and a weaker euro/dollar forex rate were said to be weighing on risk assets — gold and silver included — as was U.S.-listed share prices’ run-up to a six-month high yesterday.
Sovereign debt news out of Europe was positive, however. Bidding was strong at an auction of five-year German government bonds, and that also sent yields lower on weaker eurozone partners Italy and Spain. In the U.S., Federal Reserve chairman Bernanke announced that the Fed stands ready to “double down on a three-year bet” to revive the U.S. housing market that’s failed thus far, according to a Bloomberg report.
Spot gold was trading some 0.3% higher at 10:30 a.m., with a bid price of $1,637.70 per ounce and an ask price of $1,638.70. Spot gold traded as high as $1,641.90 and as low as $1632.80. The London afternoon reference price fix came in at $1,634.50, $2.50 per ounce lower than Tuesday’s reference price, according to Kitco market data.
Spot silver was down 0.2%, bid at $29.88 per ounce with an ask price of $29.98. The morning high as of time of writing was $30.04 and the low was $29.51. Wednesday’s reference price was set at $29.81 in the London a.m., 12 cents per ounce higher than Tuesday’s price fix.
Gold prices hit a one-month high of just under $1,647 per ounce in London morning trading before giving back ground as the dollar rallied, according to BullionVault‘s London Gold Market report.
“While the dollar may not see a significant correction soon, and is likely to continue to gain against the euro as the eurozone crisis persists, the negative effects of a stronger dollar on gold are likely to be largely diminished in 2012, allowing the bullish macro drivers to dictate price action once again,” according to a market note from Societe Generale.
Gold and silver trusts were moving higher in Wednesday morning activity on U.S. exchanges.
- The SPDR Gold Trust (NYSE:GLD) was showing gains of nearly 0.7%.
- The iShares Gold Trust (NYSE:IAU) was up more than 0.6%.
- The iShares Silver Trust (NYSE:SLV) was up about 0.5%.
Gold and silver mining ETFs were heading lower.
- The Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSE:GDX) was around 0.7% lower.
- The Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (NYSE:GDXJ) was down 0.3%.
- The Global X Silver Miners ETF (NYSE:SIL) was down nearly 1.5%.
Gold mining shares were moving lower, with Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX) bucking the trend by moving higher.
- Agnico-Eagle Mines (NYSE:AEM) was showing losses of more than 1.1%.
- Barrick Gold was up about 0.15%.
- Eldorado Gold (NYSE: EGO) was down around 1%.
- Goldcorp (NYSE:GG) was down nearly 0.3%.
- Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM) was down around 0.15%.
- NovaGold Resources (AMEX:NG) was just shy of 1% lower.
- Yamana Gold (NYSE:AUY) was down nearly 0.6%.
Silver mining shares were showing losses, though Pan American Silver (NASDAQ:PAAS) was up sharply.
- Coeur d’Alene Mines (NYSE:CDE) was moving sharply lower, down more than 1.7%.
- Hecla Mining (NYSE:HL) was down a whopping 23%.
- Pan American Silver was up some 1.6%.
- Silver Wheaton (NYSE:SLW) was showing losses of around 0.7%.
- Silver Standard Resources (NASDAQ:SSRI) was down more than 2.4%.
As of this writing, Andrew Burger did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. Adrian Ash of BullionVault contributed to this report.