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Harambe: Bloomberg: Gold Roars Out of Blocks in 2021 as Real Yields, Dollar Decline

(1/4/21)

Gold surged above $1,900 an ounce to the highest in almost two months as lower U.S. real yields and a weaker dollar helped the metal build on its biggest annual advance in a decade.

Real yields — the difference between nominal benchmark bond yields and the rate of inflation — fell close to last year’s nadir on Friday, boosting bullion’s allure. The decline in real rates is being driven by a rise in inflation expectations, with investors betting that vaccine distribution, further central bank support, and continuing government aid will see demand rebound in 2021.

“Investors are looking for assets which benefit from higher inflation,” said Giovanni Staunovo, an analyst at UBS Group AG. “The reflation element is also supporting gold today.”

Bullion is also rallying as a gauge of the U.S. currency languishes at the lowest level since 2018 after sliding for three quarters. The gains in the haven come even as U.S. and global stocks are at all-time highs amid expectations that measures to combat the pandemic will reignite growth and boost corporate profits. Gold is also being supported by renewed inflows into exchange-traded funds, following withdrawals in November and the first weeks of December.

Spot gold climbed as much as 2.3% to $1,942.07 an ounce, the highest since Nov. 9, and traded at $1,940.32 at 1:50 p.m. in London. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.4%. In 2020, the precious metal rose 25%. Silver rose as much as 4.3%, and platinum hit $1,115.10 an ounce, the highest since 2016.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-01-04/gold-hits-two-month-high-as-dollar-real-yields-face-pressure

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Harambe:  AA: Iraqi panel says $239.7 billion smuggled outside Iraq (1/4/21)

BAGHDAD

An Iraqi parliamentary committee has estimated that around 350 trillion dinars ($239.7 billion) have been smuggled outside Iraq since 2003.

“The amount was smuggled in the form of fake receipts and a lot of commissions were paid to officials,” Taha al-Difai, a member of the Integrity Committee, told the official Iraqi News Agency on Monday.

The MP cited political pressure on an anti-corruption committee formed by the government to look into allegations of graft in the country.

“Around $1,000 trillion dinars ($685 billion) have been disbursed since 2003,” he said, adding that this amount was “wasted in contracting and rampant corruption”.

Last year, Rahim al-Darraji, a former member of the Finance Committee in parliament, estimated the looted funds in Iraq at around $450 billion.

Iraq is witnessing a fiscal deficit of 58 trillion dinars ($43.9 billion) in the 2021 budget – almost 38.6 percent of the total budget of $102 billion, due to the decline in crude oil prices.

Last month, Iraq’s Central Bank devalued the national currency against the US dollar by almost 20 percent.

Iraq, the world’s third-largest oil exporter, says the devaluation was necessary to overcome the country’s economic crisis.

The move to devaluate the currency has sparked public outrage as the devaluation would worsen economic woes for the average Iraqi.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/iraqi-panel-says-2397-bln-smuggled-outside-iraq/2097655

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Tishwash: Baghdad calls on Washington and Tehran to respect the sovereignty of Iraq

The Iraqi army called on the United States and Iran to “respect the sovereignty of Iraq”, in the midst of escalating tension between the two countries, with the arrival of the first anniversary of the killing of the commander of the “Quds Force” in the Iranian Guard, Qassem Soleimani, and the leader of the “Popular Mobilization” in Iraq, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis.

The Iraqi News Agency (INA) quoted the spokesman for the Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces, Yahya Rasoul, as saying, “We do not want Iraq to be a starting point for striking neighboring countries,” noting that “the Iraqi armed forces are monitoring the escalation in the region, and any strike between the United States and Iran.” The results will be catastrophic. ”

“Red line”

Yahya Rasoul stressed that “the sovereignty of Iraq is a red line for the armed forces,” adding that “in light of the escalation between Washington and Tehran, what matters to us is the interest of Iraq.”

On Sunday, thousands of demonstrators flocked to Tahrir Square in the center of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, on the first anniversary of the killing of Soleimani and the engineer. The Iraqi News Agency estimated the number of demonstrators at “thousands”, while local media indicated that most of the participants in the demonstration were supporters of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces.

For his part, the official spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, Khaled Al-Muhanna, confirmed to Al-Sharq, “the success of the security plan for the demonstrations,” stressing that “no significant security breach was recorded,” and that “the security forces practiced their work by controlling security at the place of the demonstration, And the surrounding places, and achieved a high flow of demonstrators entering and reaching Tahrir Square. ”

On January 3, 2020, Soleimani and the engineer were killed in an American drone strike targeting their convoy at Baghdad Airport. Washington accused Soleimani of being the “mastermind of the attacks launched by militants allied with Iran, against US forces in the region.”

On Sunday, Acting US Defense Secretary Christopher Miller said that he had changed his decision to withdraw the aircraft carrier “Nimitz” from the region, adding that “due to the threats made by Iranian leaders to US President Donald Trump and other US officials recently, I ordered the redeployment process to be stopped.” Routine for the aircraft carrier Nimitz  link