Any serious coin collector knows that the nefarious milk spot will often sully the surface of your favorite coinage. Milk spots are white deposits that leave unappealing blotches on many silver coins and bullion bars.
Thankfully, collectors may soon have their frustrations ameliorated. A recent analysis by Australia’s Perth Mint has shed light on the issue.
Note the milky discoloration near the center of the coin
Suspicions of poor water quality and crucible contamination have been ruled out: metallurgists now believe that an accumulation of microscopic silver chloride debris are responsible for leaving the blotches. The analysis also indicates that the residue may have found its way onto the coins after their striking.
As a result of their recent discoveries, the Perth Mint will be implementing a couple of measures to lessen the appearance of the milk spots. The mint has scheduled routine cleanings of its compressed air line filters so as to remove any oil and water build-up. Meanwhile, the subsequent replacement of its air conditioning filters should eliminate the possibility of airborne microscopics finding their way into any manufacturing areas.
The Perth Mint
Although the analyses have not proven conclusive, the efforts by the Perth Mint have led to a considerable reduction in the amount of milk spots. At any rate, the measures enacted by the Perth Mint are sure to appease all of us anxiety-ridden collectors.
by Shaquille Brissett
A disappointing durable goods report showed orders fell 3.4% last month, a bad sign for U.S. manufacturing. Although the dollar finally slipped back this morning, sliding about 0.75% on the DXY down to 94.0, its strength over the last year dragged down the earnings of several bellwether U.S. firms, including Caterpillar, Microsoft, DuPont, and Procter & Gamble. The combination of these two factors had U.S. stock indices sharply lower this morning, with the Dow Jones down over 250 points before 10 am EST, and each index about 1.5% in the red. This helped push gold back above $1,285/oz, up about 0.60%.
The victory of the left-wing Syriza party in yesterday’s Greek elections has yet to swing the markets one way or the other this morning. Syriza has formed a coalition with another anti-austerity party in order to form a cohesive government, raising concerns that Europe will economically as well as politically fragment if Greece reneges on its bailout loan from the ECB. The euro promptly fell to a new 11-year low, and is only trading around $1.12. The precious metals were each about 1% lower this morning as some profit-taking chips away at last week’s advances. Silver fared the best, steadying around $18.20/oz.
The whole world is watching the Greek election this Sunday, as the party leading in polls has sworn to end austerity measures and force a renegotiation (and reduction) to the massive bailout received by the IMF, ECB and EU. Reporters are saying this election has the possibility to wreck the world economy.
Find out why in this infographic on “The Greek Question” by Gainesville Coins.
U.S. markets were down slightly across the board this morning, while European stocks were well into the green following yesterday’s quantitative easing announcement by the ECB. Gold and silver each eased about 0.5% off of yesterday’s close this morning due to some profit-taking, but this is also partly due to the dollar continuing to rise. The greenback rose above 95.0 on the DXY index before sliding back just a bit, as the index has added a remarkable 2.5 points in just a week. This has been fueled by the tumbling euro and falling oil prices: the two major crude benchmarks were mixed this morning, with Brent crude up about 0.7% and WTI down 1%. Markets seem to be hesitant amid the uncertainty that surrounds Greece’s possible exit for the euro area following this Sunday’s elections.
Markets are reacting to the European Central Bank’s larger than expected quantitative easing (aka “money printing”) plan. Stocks and currencies fluctuated after the ECB announced that interest rates would remain the same, at 0.05% and -.20% for excess bank funds deposited at the ECB. It was the press conference afterwards by ECB president Mario Draghi that the markets were waiting on, and “Super Mario” did not disappoint.
After rumors were deliberately leaked yesterday, stating that the ECB QE would be for €50 billion a month for 12 months, the reaction was perhaps not what the central bank wanted. This led to the surprise announcement of €60 billion ($69 billion) a month through September 2016.
Both gold and the dollar had eased overnight ahead of the ECB meeting, but shot up after the QE announcement. Gold blasted upward over $15 to hit the $1,305 level before some profit taking temporarily set in, but soon rose back above $1,300. Silver, which is seeing its best January in over 30 years, is up over 1-1/3% this morning. At a gold:silver ratio over 71, compared to a historical average of 58, many investors are moving into silver since it is deemed more inexpensive than it should be.
The Euro is trending near an 11-year low of under $1.15 that it hit on January 16th, while European stocks extend a seven-year high hit yesterday, all according to Draghi’s plan. Wall St opened higher, but was immediately slammed by disappointing earning reports from Verizon and American Express. After traders digested this news, indices moved solidly back into positive territory.
Wondering what all the confusion and excitement is about, over the ECB’s QE announcement? This handy infographic from Gainesville Coins gives you the lowdown on the reasons for ECB money printing, and the unique hurdles it will have to overcome.
Feel free to share!
Spot gold cracked the psychologically important $1,300/oz threshold this morning, perhaps pushing toward the yellow metal’s first close above $1,300 since August of last year. Continued uncertainty over how the ECB will tackle its deflation problem, and how the world at large will escape an economic slowdown, have been stimulating safe haven demand for precious metals. While gold has certainly been the beneficiary of this development, silver may be the biggest winner. The white metal has climbed from its November lows around $15/oz all the way back above $18 per ounce, and shows no signs of slowing down. As of 10 am EST, silver was trading another 47 cents higher at $18.49.