Precious metals are likely to remain under pressure in near term on signs of improvement in global economy, which helped appreciation in the dollar, the currency inversely proportional to bullion. Base metals, however, would see a recovery in coming weeks on favourable economic numbers coming from the three largest consumers - the US, the European Union and China.
Hedge funds' aggressive selling pulled down precious metals prices down in the last one month. In February, gold price fell 5.26 per cent or $87.52 to $1576.18 an ounce (oz) on reducing its appeal as a hedge against inflation.
Economic uncertainty restored after Italy's election hit the global manufacturing sector, which uses around two-third of silver consumption. Consequently, silver price fell over nine per cent in February to settle at $28.61 an oz.
"Gold may see another decline of at least $25 to hit at $1,550 an oz in near term which means another Rs 500 decline could be noticed in rupee terms to Rs 29,000 per 10 gm for near month delivery in futures market. Similarly, silver could plunge to Rs 51,500 a kg in futures market," said Ashok Mittal, chief executive officer of Emkay Commotrade, a city-based broking firm.
Exploring risks in holding bullions for short term, global hedge funds replenished a part of their holding, which pulled down the benchmark SPDR gold reserves by 4.21 per cent at 2,502 tonnes in February.
"For the near term, we expect gold prices to find support at Rs 29,420 - 29,380 per 10 gm levels. Trading consistently below Rs 29,370 per 10 gm levels would lead towards the strong support at Rs 29,100 per 10 gm levels, then Rs 28,925 per 10 gm and then finally towards the major support at Rs 28,286 per 10 gm level. Resistance is now observed in the range of Rs 30,090 - 30,130 per 10 gm levels. Trading consistently above 30,140 levels would lead towards the strong resistance at Rs 30,462 per 10 gm, and then finally towards the major resistance at Rs 30,625 per 10 gm," said Samson Pasam, senior technical analyst with Angel Commodities Broking.
Among base metals, aluminium fell 5.47 per cent in February to close at $1,960 a tonne, copper 4.19 per cent to $7,828 a tonne, lead 6.17 per cent to $2,287.5 a tonne and zinc 3.44 per cent to $2,065.5 a tonne. Nickel, which is largely used for manufacturing stainless steel, plunged by a staggering 9.33 per cent to close at $16,660 a tonne in February.
The fall in base metals was largely attributed to lower-than-expected Chinese manufacturing data, which showed a pace of expansion, but signaled China's economic recovery might be losing stream.
China's economy fell four-month low in February after continuing its winning streak with over 10 per cent growth in the last three decades. Global bank HSBC said its "flash" index of purchasing managers sentiment fell to 50.4 in February from January's final reading of 52.3. Any reading above 50 signals expansion in the manufacturing sector.
In a dampening indicator, combined copper inventories monitored by exchanges in Shanghai, London and New York have climbed to the highest since May 2010. Industrial metals and energy led commodities lower last month. The Standard & Poor's GSCI Spot Index of 24 raw materials erased this year's gain last week.
According to reports, February was the strongest month for the US manufacturing sector in almost two years. The PMI, an index used to measure the strength of manufacturing, rose to 54.2 per cent last month, an increase of 1.1 percentage points compared to January.
Merely, a week after official figures showed a steep fall in Euro zone output in late 2012 the European Commission (EC) added to the storm by unveiling some gloomy forecasts for 2013. Three months ago EC envisaged a modest recovery getting under way in the first half of this year. Now that is not expected until the second half of 2013.
Last November, EC expected the euro area to grow this year though barely, by just 0.1 per cent, following a 0.4 per cent decline in 2012; now it is expecting a fall in gross domestic product of 0.3 per cent following a 0.6 per cent drop last year.