Fed Stimulus Divide Ignites Gold Prices - TheStreet

NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) --

Gold prices

popped Tuesday after Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans said further measures to stimulate the economy could be necessary. The rally continued in after-hours trading after the Fed's latest minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee meeting in August showed a growing number of presidents calling for more stimulus.

Gold for December delivery soared $38.20 to settle at $1,829.80 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The

gold price

has traded as high as $1,836.40 and as low as $1,786.20 while the spot gold price was jumping more than $44, according to Kitco's gold index.

Silver prices

closed 86 cents higher at $41.46 an ounce. The

U.S. dollar index

was up 0.40% at $73.95 while the euro was down 0.52% vs. the dollar.

Gold prices initially catapulted higher after

Evans said on CNBC that more quantitative easing is necessary.

Vote: Where will gold prices finish in 2011?

During the interview, Evans called for more stimulus until the unemployment rate falls to 7% or until inflation surges past 3%. The Fed's threshold is 2% for inflation and raising the limit for higher prices leaves a lot more breathing room for the Fed to take action. Core inflation is currently 1.6%.

Evans does have voting rights, according to the Federal Reserve's Website, but his view will have to contend with others that are more worried about inflation than the possibility of a double-dip recession.

Vote: How High Will Silver Prices Go in 2011?

At the last policy meeting in early August, Presidents Kocherlakota, Plosser and Fisher all voted against keeping rates low until mid-2013, citing inflation and the fact that a lot of the liquidity the Fed has pumped into the market remains sidelined.

This battle was crystal clear in the Fed's latest FOMC minutes released this afternoon, where several presidents called for more stimulus immediately. Among the options floated were more asset purchases, increasing the maturity of the Fed's portfolio -- selling short term securities and buying longer term ones to further promote low interest rates -- or reducing the interest rate the Fed pays on excess reserve balances to give banks an incentive to lend money.

The dissenters, however, blocked any such movement and the Fed compromised with low interest rates until mid-2013. There was also a disagreement as to whether inflation is temporary or more entrenched. Fleeting inflation could strengthen the argument for another round of quantitative easing. The minutes also illustrated that the Fed saw increased downside risks to the economy. Gold rallied another $10 after the FOMC minutes were released at 2 p.m. ET.

This divergence puts a significant strain on the Fed's next FOMC meeting in late September, but Evans' comments were just what investors needed to pile into gold. More liquidity means higher inflation, which means gold makes a better investment than a devalued dollar in the bank.

Adding fuel to gold's fire was Standard & Poor's downgrade of Eurozone 2011 growth estimates to 1.7% from 1.9%. Germany didn't survive unscathed -- its 2012 economic forecast was slashed to 2% from 2.5%.

Some technical traders, however, don't expect gold's rally to last. J.W. Jones, analyst at OptionsTradingSignals.com, is noticing a head and shoulders pattern in the gold chart, which can be a bearish signal.

"If you look at the daily chart ... we do have an interesting pattern on gold ....

a possible topping pattern," says Jones. "If I'm an investor I am not taking gold long until I see a breakout in gold above recent highs." Jones is a long-term bull on gold, but is a short to medium term bear.

"From a safety stand point if I live in the Eurozone and I have all these headwinds ... my currency could be drastically devalued in a short period of time." Jones warns that if the chart pattern plays out, then gold could correct to the $1,490 an ounce level.

Jones isn't the only one noticing this pattern, however, and many traders will be looking to bet against prices to profit from a correction. But if it doesn't come and gold prices stay high, those traders will be forced to cover those positions, which in turn will drive prices higher, then "we are off to the races," says Jones.

The physical gold market has been largely ignored as of late and could provide hidden support for gold prices.

Bloomberg

said Tuesday that India could buy 250 tons of gold in the fall during its festival season and

Reuters

said their channel checks pointed to strong gold demand among Chinese jewelers throughout August, despite record high gold prices. China and India are the world's largest gold buyers.

Phil Streible, senior market strategist at MFGlobal, says this strong physical buying could influence the gold price if futures contracts go into backwardation -- where the spot month, or most heavily traded contract, trades higher than a longer dated contract. If that happens and "if you see that start accelerating ... then you want to look at getting long the front month because that is going to be your physical supply squeeze."

Streible isn't trading that theory yet but is monitoring the price swings.

Gold mining stocks

were higher.

Kinross Gold

(KGC) - Get Report

was up 0.92% at $17.56 while

Yamana Gold

(AUY) - Get Report

was 1.70% higher at $16.01. Other gold stocks,

Agnico-Eagle

(AEM) - Get Report

and

Eldorado Gold

(EGO) - Get Report

were trading at $69.90 and $19.73, respectively.

Related Articles:

How to Invest in Gold

Do Gold Prices Have Room to Rise?

--

Written by Alix Steel in

New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here:

Alix Steel

.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.