After three quarters of declines, silver's fortune changed as the metal posted gains for the first quarter (Q1) of 2012. Silver took off after the new year, rising to its highest level since September 22, 2011 on February 28, when it crossed the $37 mark. But leap day proved unlucky for the metal, and investors saw a sharp fall in prices. Though in US dollars silver managed to gain about 16 percent during Q1 2012, it is now marching to a different tune, calling into question whether that performance will be repeated in Q2. Q1 2012 revealed that optimism in the silver market was largely based on expectations of loose monetary policy. The EU played its part in satisfying the market's thirst for liquidity by announcing another long-term refinancing operation. That move, however, was not enough, as silver investors also want an injection of cash into the US economy. The Federal Reserve has not announced whether or not there is further stimulus in store for the US, but the market has proven so desperate that silver prices have been pushed around during the quarter based on what investors have read between the lines of Chairman Ben Bernanke's statements. The most dramatic example of Bernanke's impact on silver occurred on February 29, when his omission of stimulus suggestions prompted a dramatic leap day decline, a fall from which silver has yet to recover. Macroeconomic influence Throughout March, silver has been trapped in a struggle between the bears and the bulls. In addition to disappointment with US monetary policy, silver prices have shown sensitivity to macroeconomic news, with a particular focus on the EU, China, and the US. The debt situation in the Euro bloc has the ability to promptly reignite fear among silver investors. The metal has shown a positive correlation to the euro: it appears that when crisis is on the brink of escalation - such as during Greek bailout negotiations - silver suffers, but when such worries subside and the euro strengthens, silver prices improve.