Welcome to our news roundup covering August 2019, where we bring you a bite-sized look at the various relevant stories you may have missed. With Boris and Brexit still very much dominating the news cycle, it can be easy to overlook the smaller stories or simply tune out altogether – read on to find out more about what happened in the world of finance, gold and diamonds during August.
Mortgage approvals in July 2019 are highest seen in 10 years
The possibility of a no-deal Brexit is thought to be the reason behind a surge in mortgage approvals during July 2019. New figures released during August show that mortgage approvals were at their highest in 10 years, with 95,126 applications being approved in July 2019 alone.
This has been prompted by fears that rates could rise if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31st October, and many also think that the banks will be more reluctant to lend in the months following this scenario. This has incentivised many to act now, which is reflected in the figures for July.
Most of these approvals came from people re-mortgaging their homes, rather than moving into their first or next property, which suggests many are looking to pin down their rate to protect against possible rises in the near future.
Global economy worries prompt some investors to make voluntary losses
On 20th August, the BBC reported on an interesting investment trend – where some of the world’s biggest investors have started paying governments to look after their cash, essentially making a loss in the process.
As the global economy goes through a rough patch, many investors are turning to ‘safe haven’ options like gold (more on this below). However, many larger investors (like pension funds, for instance)must be super careful with their money; to the point where even gold is deemed too risky an investment. In this case, government bonds are seen to be safer, but at the current rates are actually costing money rather than paying dividends – it’s called negative bond yield.
Investors are thought to be choosing this option in a ‘lesser of all evils’ scenario, where they would rather make a small loss that they know about, than a larger unexpected one. This risk aversion suggests that no one quite knows what will happen next, so it will be interesting to see what investors will do next as we move into uncharted territory in the months to come.
Gold price soars during August – and could go higher
Gold has been doing very well on the stock market of late, and August was certainly no exception to the trend. In the first week of the month, it rose to $1,500 an ounce (£1,234.45 at the time) for the first time in 6 years. Concerns about the global economy have pushed the value of gold higher; a potential trade war between the US and China, the threat of a no-deal Brexit and other issues have pushed many investors to the ‘safe haven’ of gold.
Some strategists are suggesting that gold prices could well go higher during this ‘unprecedented period of uncertainty’, which is making investors wary. As gold is a physical, finite asset which will always hold some value, it represents a port in a storm while the pound and dollar continue to struggle.
Scientists create ‘nanoseaweed’ – the thinnest gold in the world
Scientists have created the thinnest piece of gold in the world at just 0.47 nanometres, which is 1 million times thinner than a human fingernail. It’s actually only 2 atoms thick, which technically makes it 2D. This thin gold is obviously no use for jewellery, but it could make a big difference to the medical and electronics industries.
Gold can be used as a catalyst to speed up chemical reactions and gold nanoparticles are used in certain medicines and medical treatments because of this trait. This ultra-thin gold is 10 times more efficient than the larger gold nanoparticles currently used, and could have exciting implications for the industry.
Name of rare 14.83-carat pink diamond revealed
Two years ago, the largest pink diamond ever discovered in Russia was found by Alrosa, the Russian diamond mining company. The original rough diamond was cut and polished over the course of a year to turn it into the show-stopping gem it is today. On 15th August, Alrosa announced the name of this extremely rare diamond – ‘Spirit of the Rose’.
The stone is internally flawless and is registered as ‘Fancy Vivid Purple-Pink’. It’s one of around 10 known pink diamonds that exceed 10-carats and it is thought it could do very well when it is eventually sold. A specialist who has seen and held the diamond estimates its value to be at least $60 million!
Woman finds 3.72-carat yellow diamond in lucky set of circumstances
A fortunate 27-year-old woman decided on a whim to take her family to Crate of Diamonds State Park in Pike County, Arkansas in mid-August, where visitors can take in the scenery, go on hikes and search for rare diamonds - although you have to be very lucky to find one.
Miranda Hollingshead and her son decided to sit in the shade on a hillside on the northeast side of the park at one point during their visit. While her son played nearby, Hollingshead watched a YouTube video with tips on how to find diamonds at the park. She looked over to check on her son, looked down, and the diamond was right there amongst the pebbles at her feet!
Likely to have been uncovered during recent heavy rains, the yellow 3.72-carat rarity has been registered at the park’s Diamond Discovery Centre and has been named Caro Avenger after her son, and their love for superheroes. As with all lucky diamond prospectors at the park, Hollingshead gets to keep her discovery.