Metallurgical coal miner Walter Energy Inc. (WLT) today cut its quarterly dividend from $0.125 to $0.01. The cut was demanded by creditors in order to let the company amend a $2.73 billion senior secured debt. The company’s shares have dropped nearly 17% as a result.
Coal miners are not the only casualties today. Gold and gold miners are also taking some lumps. Gold for August delivery closed down 1.1% on the Comex today, at $1,319.70. Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX), off 6%, and Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (FCX), off nearly 4%, are the hardest hit gold miners, and the Direxion Daily Gold Miners Bull 3X Shares (NUGT) is getting hammered as well, down nearly 17%.
Today’s pounding follows an unexpected jump in flash eurozone PMI to an 18-month high of 50.4, a number which actually indicates that the European economy is expanding. Eurozone manufacturing is also expanding, sporting an index reading of 50.1, a 24-month high.
China’s flash manufacturing PMI reading fell to an 11-month low of 47.7, meaning the world’s second largest economy is contracting. Yesterday the government set a floor for 2013 GDP growth of 7%, indicating that the country is seriously worried about the economy.
Also contributing to the declines is a strengthening dollar. The DXY index is up 0.50%, to 82.3560 in the mid-afternoon, and the EURUSD is down nearly 0.3% at 1.32. The dollar is also stronger against the Japanese yen, with an index reading of 100.31.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a drop in crude oil inventories today, but gasoline inventories were higher, and crude prices have dropped about 2%, to well below $106 a barrel, and may fall below $105 before WTI futures close for the day.
While the eurozone numbers ought to prop up commodities, the weight of China combined with a stronger dollar, and falling crude prices is too much for the miners to bear. The falling price of gold adds to the weight on gold miners and the leveraged gold shares fund.