As a result, physical gold ETFs have also drifted lower. The $33bn SPDR Gold Trust (NYSE: GLD.US) ETF has fallen by 0.8% to $117.39 since last Friday, cutting its gains for the year to date to just 1.1%.
Over the same period, London-listed Gold Bullion Securities (LSE: GBS) has slipped 0.1% to $117.36, leaving the funds shares just 1.4% higher than they were at the start of 2014.
Gold mining update
Last week I reported on the dilutive rights issue launched by Petropavlovsk (LSE: POG) as part of the troubled gold miners debt restructuring. Investors have continue to sell-off the Russia-based companys shares, which have fallen by 15% to 28p over the last week, leaving the company with a market cap of just 55m but net debt of 948m, which is where the problem lies.
In my view, Petropavlovsk will struggle to make any profit on gold sales once its current forward sales agreements, which added an average of $93 per ounce to gold sales during the first half, are exhausted probably later this year. The firms shares have fallen by 97% over the last five years, and shareholders face a very real risk of being completely wiped out, in my opinion.
Elsewhere, Highland Gold Mining (LSE: HGM) released a solid set of half-yearly results earlier this week, with gold production up 13.7% on the same period last year and all-in sustaining costs down by $12 per ounce to just $900, highlighting the firms solid profitability at lower gold prices. The interim dividend was maintained at 2.5p, which equates to a 4.6% yield at todays price, without factoring in the final dividend!
However, although Highland Gold Mining expects full-year production to rise by at least 20% this year, the companys net debt rose sharply last year due to capex commitments. The board has not committed to maintain last years 2.5p final dividend, saying instead that future dividends will be paid bearing in mind the capital requirements necessary to support the expansion of the group. In my view this could point to a cut, and analysts forecasts suggest agree, suggesting a total payout of 4.2p this year and 3.1p next year.
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Roland does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.