The surge in equities came despite news that Societe Generale – France’s second-largest bank – has lost €4.9 billion ($7.1bn) thanks to a lone stock trader applying the "double or quits" strategy of Nick Leeson at Barings and Yasuo Hamanaka at Sumitomo Corp.
Announcing what may prove to be the world’s biggest ever "rogue trader" losses, SocGen also admitted to a further €2.05 billion writedown of its credit-related investments.
"The situation of financial institutions is likely to improve" however, reckon analysts at Dresdner Kleinwort in a report today, "and this might stabilize stock markets, which would be positive for gold."
"It would not only be positive for Gold Prices as investors stop selling gold to cover losses on other assets, but also via a weaker US Dollar and rebounding crude oil prices."
The world’s commodities markets rallied early on Thursday, with crude oil bouncing from a three-month low and copper traded at the London Metal Exchange rising at the fastest pace in a fortnight.
Corn, wheat and soybean prices also rose.
But Asian stock markets suffered a very mixed session, with Hong Kong selling off a further 2% while Tokyo bounced by the same proportion as the Japanese government debated a package of emergency support that would scrap both capital gains and dividend taxes.
Today’s Financial Times reports that state-controlled pension funds in China, Taiwan and South Korea are now planning to raise their equity investments in a bid to support stock prices.
This morning in the United States, Ford Motor Co. said it lost $2.7 billion in the last three months of ’07, taking its total losses for the year to $2.8bn.
"There should be a lot of [gold futures] traders hoping to cover their shorts at a better price today," says Christopher Langguth in Mitsui’s technical note, but "on the upside [above] $897 the buying will probably be aggressive.
"Very few shorts will be willing to wait and see if it takes out $916.10 before covering."
At the Tocom in Tokyo, gold for delivery in Dec. ’08 ticked ¥5 lower, slipping to ¥3,066 per gram – equivalent to $894 per ounce – as the Japanese Yen pulled back from last night’s 30-month highs on the currency markets.
Both the Euro and British Pound then touched one-week highs vs. the Dollar above $1.4680 and $1.9640 respectively. But the recovery in Gold Prices outpaced them all, hitting seven-session highs for British investors above £459.90 per ounce.
The Gold Price in Euros hit new all-time record highs above €615 per ounce.
Further east meantime, "the research center at BDO Unicon auditing and financial services found that metals accounts were the most profitable savings instrument for the public in 2007," reports Kommersant in Moscow today, "providing a real income in Russian Rubles of 13.7%."
Over in the debt markets, the cost of financial insurance slipped across Asia and Europe, with the price of credit default swaps (CDS) on higher risk European debt dropping by 7%. The cost of Japanese CDS fell by one-tenth on the Markit Index.
And extending yesterday’s late surge on Wall Street, the FTSE Eurofirst index of 300 blue-chips rose by 4.9% this morning as further details emerged of the New York State insurance regulator’s demand that US banks support the ailing "monoline" credit insurers with a $15 billion package.
The monoline insurers now stand behind $2.4 trillion in corporate, credit and municipal bonds. Last Friday the world’s second-largest bond insurer – Ambac Financial – had its own credit rating downgraded from the crucial "triple-A" status it requires to raise fresh funds.
"Investors will continue to buy precious metals like gold, silver, and platinum to offset paper losses in other markets," says Roland Jansen, head of investment at Juno Mother Earth, a $150 million US asset manager.
"Inflation will increase worldwide and is much higher than the official published statistics of governments."