Gold and Silver Outperform Amid Fiscal Cliff Drama

On Thursday, gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) futures for February delivery, the most active contract, increased $3.00 to settle at $1,663.70 per ounce, while silver (NYSEARCA:SLV) futures for March edged 21 cents higher to close at $30.24.

Both precious metals outperformed the major U.S. stock indices for the second consecutive day as the fiscal cliff drama continues to weigh on markets and confidence. The Conference Board, a private research group, announced that its index of consumer confidence declined to 65.1 in December, compared to a revised 71.5 in the previous month, which was first reported as 73.7. The December index reading is the biggest drop in confidence since August 2011, when Congress was in gridlock over raising the debt ceiling.

Hopes of reaching a fiscal cliff deal before the end of the year looked bleak as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it “looks like” Congress will not reach a deal in the remaining days of 2012. “It looks like that’s where we’re headed,” he said. “I don’t know, time-wise, how it can happen now.” Reid also went on to accuse House Speaker John Boehner of running a “dictatorship.” However, in typical last minute fashion, reports indicate that the House of Representatives will reconvene Sunday night, providing some hope for a deal before January.

By the end of the day, the SPDR Gold Trust (NYSEARCA:GLD) increased 0.24 percent, while the iShares Silver Trust (NYSEARCA:SLV) gained 0.79 percent. Gold miners (NYSEARCA:GDX) such as Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX) and Yamana Gold (NYSE:AUY) increased 0.47 percent and 0.72 percent, respectively. However, silver miners (NYSEARCA:SIL) such as First Majestic Silver (NYSE:AG) and Endeavour Silver (NYSE:EXK) both declined about 1.0 percent.

Investor Insight: Currency Wars Expand Their Battlefield

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Disclosure: Long EXK, AG, HL, PHYS