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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to http://pennystockpaycheck.com for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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VIDEO: ‘I bought a whole Spanish village’

Category : World News

As people in Spain move out of rural areas and into cities to seek work, entire villages are being sold off at rock bottom prices, drawing buyers from overseas.

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Osborne warned on mortgage scheme

Category : Business, World News

George Osborne’s plan to boost the housing market may not help first-time buyers and could cost the UK large sums, MPs warn.

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Loan move ‘significant’ for buyers

Category : World News

Mortgage brokers say that government support for home loans is a “significant step forward” for buyers, but there has also been criticism of the policies.

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House prices rise for first-timers

Category : World News

Prices paid for UK homes by first-time buyers in January were 2% higher than a year earlier, official figures show.

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Bullion firm reveals that British holdings increased tenfold in five years

Category : Business

Speculators and safe-haven investors have ploughed hundreds of millions of pounds in to gold since the financial crisis began

They were tumultuous days: Northern Rock had just been nationalised, the UK was lurching into recession and in the US one of Wall Street’s biggest investment banks was on the brink of bankruptcy. But one financial asset was soaring – gold.

It is five years this week since the price of an ounce of gold shot through the $1,000 level – and there have never been more private gold traders and individual investors keen to keep their cash in the precious metal.

According to BullionVault, which operates vaults in London, New York and Zurich there has been a ninefold increase in the number of gold bullion traders in the past five years, with Britons among the most enthusiastic buyers. Most of them, say BullionVault, choose to keep their heavyweight investment in Switzerland.

More than 45,000 people have used the company to buy bullion, and between them they now own 32.9 tonnes of gold bars, worth £1.11bn – with British households accounting for £562m of the total, 10 times the value of British holdings in their vaults five years ago.

Adrian Ash, BullionVault’s head of research in London, said: “Consumers decide to put their hard-earned money into physical gold for many reasons. In the main it’s to diversify away from other investment markets, to hedge against inflation or as a ‘crisis insurance’ if they fear global financial instability. Whatever the reason it’s clear that the last five years has seen unprecedented demand for gold.”

That demand, when supply is so limited, pushes the price higher. All the gold in the world would fit in a cube only about 60ft square.

The man described as the world’s most successful investor, Warren Buffett, is not a fan: “Gold gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or someplace, then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head.”

But, with a few wobbles, the price has stayed high. In the past five years UK investors could have banked a 115% rise if they bought gold with sterling.

Barclays bank is also keen to cash in on the UK’s new passion for gold – it opened its first gold vault last September. The secret facility, somewhere within the M25, is one of the largest in Europe and stores gold, silver and platinum, as well as palladium and rhodium.

Danny Cox of financial advisers Hargreaves Lansdown said: “Over the last five years the financial crisis pushed investors towards gold as a safe haven asset and we have seen central banks such as Russia and China being big buyers of gold. Speculative investors have also been attracted and there has also been an increase in demand for gold jewellery, particularly from India and China.”

There are many ways for investors to gain from the rising gold price – some buy shares in listed mining companies, or invest in collective funds. But many have been personally buying bullion in the past four years.

The booming economies of China and India have helped push the price higher. India is traditionally the world’s biggest consumer of gold, and imports are second only in value to crude oil. The metal is lavished on marrying couples. There are 10m weddings in India every year and prices usually rise ahead of the wedding season, which kicks off in September. More than half the money Indians spend on gold goes on glittering wedding gifts and demand for jewellery was up 35% in the final months of last year.

Newly middle-class Chinese buyers are becoming equally big fans of the precious metal. According a the World Gold Council’s report last month, Chinese consumers are buying increasing amounts of gold for jewellery and investments. Demand for both was at a record last year.

The price has been also been driven higher by some of the measures taken to combat the economic downturn. The Bank of England, the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan have pumped hundreds of billions of dollars into the world economy in a bid to prevent a global slump – and that has helped pump up the gold price.

As a result it has been a glittering investment. Yesterday gold was selling on the London markets at $1,585 an ounce on Thursday, down 0.27% on the day before.

Traditionally, gold does less well when the stock markets are booming and the price has fallen back this year as Wall Street and the FTSE index have reached five-year record highs.

The logic is simple: unlike stocks and shares, gold does not produce any income, interest or dividends and the price depends solely on demand and supply. The World Gold Council said it expects jewellery demand for gold to fall in 2013 but says investment demand for gold “should again exceed historical averages as investors continue to focus on gold’s role as a store of wealth”.

But predicting the price of gold is essentially a mug’s game – Gordon Brown famously lost out by selling large chunks of the UK’s gold reserve between 1999 and 2002, getting a lowly price of between just $250 and $300 an ounce.

Five golden years


115%

Rise of the gold price since 14 March 2008 for UK savers who bought gold with pounds sterling.

32.9
Tonnes of gold bullion owned by BullionVault’s 45,500 users, worth over $1.68bn – more than the gold reserves of most countries. UK households make up half those users.

£562m
Value of physical gold owned by UK households via BullionVault – 10 times as much as they held in March 2008.

£1,243
Highest per ounce sterling price achieved for a gold bullion trade on BullionVault – dealt on 6 September 2011.

11kg
The largest mobile app purchase to date on BullionVault was done this month, buying gold worth over £385,000 in the Zurich vault.

819%

Increase of number of gold bullion traders in the last five years.

Lending schemes ‘boosting mortgages’

Category : World News

The UK mortgage market has been boosted by government schemes to help first-time buyers, according to homebuilder Redrow.

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VIDEO: Backstage at London Fashion Week

Category : Business

More than 5,000 fashion designers, bloggers, photographers, models and buyers are expected to attend the 80-plus shows at London Fashion Week.

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‘Concern’ over first-time buyers

Category : World News

A lack of first-time house buyers in the UK is a “cause for concern”, the Nationwide says as it reports that prices in January were unchanged from a year earlier.

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Mortgage lending picks up again

Category : Business

Mortgage lending picked up strongly in November, boosted by a rise in lending to first-time buyers.

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Mortgage approvals ‘keep rising’

Category : World News

The UK housing market shows signs of picking up as mortgage approvals for home buyers rose again in November, Bank of England figures show.

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