Mid-Week Market Report

The Country Adopting Electric Vehicles Faster than Anywhere Else/Bloomberg:  Fueled by cheap power and government subsidies, Norway is racing to ditch the “fossil car”. Starting this month, electric car owners will be able to drive down a narrow ramp between rough-hewn rock walls dripping with condensation and plug in at one of 86 charging stations—for free.

The facility will get plenty of use as Norwegians switch to electric vehicles faster than anyone else on the planet. More than a third of all new cars are either fully electric or plug-in hybrids, well over 10 times the proportion in the U.S. With about 100,000 electrics on the road, Norway (population 5 million) trails only the U.S., China, and Japan in absolute numbers.

By 2025, the government has suggested, there may be no gasoline- or diesel-powered cars sold in the country. “It’s safe to say that Norway is the first mass market for EVs,” says Sture Portvik, the city official overseeing the Akershus garage.

Mid-Week Trivia Question:  What is the best electric conductor of all the elements?

Good News from India/SchiffGold:  The Indian government set the tax rate for gold under the uniform goods and services tax lower than expected, sending a wave of optimism through the country’s gold and jewelry dealers.

According to a Bloomberg report, India fixed the duty at 3% over the weekend, lower than the 5% expected.

The goods and services tax, to be implemented from July 1, will replace more than a dozen domestic levies including excise tax and state tariffs, drawing India for the first time into a common market.”

The gold market has already shown signs of revival in India this spring. Festival-goers rushed to buy gold in celebration of Akshay Tritiya in April. Gold sales increased more than 30% during the important Hindu holiday. All-told, Indians bought more than 23 tons of gold in a single day.

Dealers and Wholesalers Around the Country are Reporting Extremely Slow Physical Bullion Sales/Fisher Precious Metals:  Wholesalers are carrying excessive levels of secondary market coins and bars, the products that have been sold back to them by dealers.  This is resulting in the lowering of their bid price, the price they will pay dealers relative to the spot price.  Lowering bid prices are occurring almost weekly.   The physical precious metals market is on life support right now, for a multitude of reasons.

Deutsche Says Gold Overvalued/Susanne Barton – Bloomberg:  At the current $1,270 per ounce, gold is expensive against nearly all other metrics, says the team at Deutsche. The average of those nine metrics - copper, gold, and the S&P 500 among them - suggests fair value of just over $1K for the yellow metal.

So, what gives? A "heightened perception of risk or uncertainty in the broader markets," says Deutsche. That premium began just over a year ago, and is expected to continue into 2018.Deutsche's cautious, seeing a year-end price of $1,150 per ounce even when factoring in more political and financial uncertainty.

Is Gold the Ultimate Currency? A Safe-Haven Asset that Many Consider the World's Currency/CME Group:  The CME Group writes a few articles a year on gold and this one (here) might have some answers for potential new clients.

First Majestic Silver to go back mining after labor disruption/Mining.com:  First Majestic Silver's (NYSE:AG, TSX:FR) La Encantada silver mine in Mexico should be back into the ore within weeks after a labor disruption halted production in May.

The Mexico-focused producer said on Friday it reached an agreement with the National Union of Miners, Metallurgists, Steelworkers and Similar Workers of Mexico (National Union) to restart the mine which has been idle since May 20. On that date, First Majestic says a group of workers staged an illegal blockade after some did not agree with the bonus that the company and the National Union had previously agreed to offer the miners in lieu of profit sharing. The mine is expected to restart by mid-June before ramping up to full production by the end of June.

Detention of illegal Chinese miners in Zambia infuriates Beijing/Mining.com:  China’s foreign ministry has expressed concerns over the recent detention of 31 of its nationals in Zambia, allegedly involved in illegal mining activities, arguing the African country's authorities didn't provide strong proof for the arrests.

Lin Songtian, director-general for African affairs at the ministry, said his country supports actions to crack down on illegal mining but believes Zambian authorities have some explanation to do in this case, South China Morning Post reports. Among the 31 Chinese nationals arrested over the weekend, there is a pregnant woman and two others with malaria. The group arrested over the weekend at the copper-mining town of Chingola includes a pregnant woman and two other people with malaria, Lin said.

China has been aggressively expanding its presence in Africa’s resource and energy sectors, with mining investments currently accounting for more than one-third of the country’s total foreign direct investment (FDI) in the region. However, accusations of workers abuse, underpayment and illegal mining against Chinese citizens have also mounted in the past decade.

In 2010, two Chinese managers were accused of attempted murder after firing on miners during a pay dispute. The charges were later dropped.

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About the Author

Pete Thomas of Zaner Precious Metals is an active cash and OTC metals broker for the last 35 years. He can be reached at 312.277.0140 or a p.thomas@zaner.com.