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Monday, 25 February 2019

Go for Gold

Past 6 months have been really great for gold. Gold prices have surged 14% since late August, when the Nasdaq Composite Index last hit a fresh record, and stand at their highest level since last April (* source- the Journal).

Gold has been influenced lately by many factors clubbed together. All these combined, have been pushing gold prices higher despite last years Fed rate hike, so it’s clear that gold is not dependent on just one factor for its price movement. Though US plays an important role in influencing gold prices, currently there are many other factors that need to be considered where gold prices are concerned.




World economies - The recent increase in gold price is in fact a proof that the slowdown has already started. Interestingly though, the increase is not the result of investors seeking a safe haven in a year that seems financially and economically awkward. That is, there are low interest rates in developed economies, higher rates in developing and emerging ones, and hence relatively higher risks of investments. In addition to the above, an increasingly protectionist trend could undermine the flow of global trade and negatively impact countries with economies highly dependent on international trade for their diversification.

Safe haven - Gold prices have climbed as investors uncertain about global growth outlook hedge their portfolios. Amid global political and economic uncertainty, the precious metal has become a compelling choice for money managers seeking to hedge their portfolios at a time of anxiety over economic growth and trade conflicts between the U.S. and its partners.

Central bank buying - In a report by the “Financial Times”, China purchased gold in late 2018, while its last purchase was more than two years ago. Poland, which hasn’t purchased gold since 1998, has lately added to its gold reserves. According to the same report, countries through their central banks have increased their gold purchases by “almost 75 per cent” in 2018. An increase in demand leads to an increase in prices too.

China, the top gold producer and consumer, is beefing up holdings amid signs of slowing growth and uncertainty about whether the trade fight with the U.S. will get resolved.

US trade war - Though the severity of the trade war is hanging loose, but any progress in this regards immediately affects gold. Trump said on Sunday he would delay an increase in tariffs on Chinese goods that had been scheduled for later this week, citing “substantial progress” in Sino-US trade talks over the weekend, and that he and his Chinese counterpart would meet to seal a deal if progress continued. This statement weakened the dollar against the Yuan.

The offshore Yuan strengthened 0.6 per cent to 6.673 Yuan against the dollar, after hitting its highest level since mid-July, on the news that Trump might not raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports to 25 per cent from 10 per cent.

As we all know that gold and dollar are inversely related and hence any weakness in the green back pushes the metal prices up.

But what’s interesting to see that annually gold has not generated returns yet, but it still seems to be investors favorite especially when they done know where to park their cash. This favouritism comes amidst the fact there bank deposits are no longer financially viable and other assets in its class aren’t giving that safe haven appeal. 

As a result, the alternative is to go for gold and settle for capital return, an increase in gold price which needs to be high enough to exceed inflation plus profit to make purchasing and holding it worthwhile. The trend in gold price seems to be headed upwards, and it may be a good time to get in, even if the best time to get in was when it was at $1,200 an ounce level.

Gold prices, though hinting at a looming bearish correction on risk-on market sentiments, will remain firmly supported on rising economic uncertainties and heightened geopolitical risks in 2019. Therefore, in light of low interest rates and a lack of clarity with regard to the world’s economic prospects, the gold price is expected to continue climbing. As it does, it may not stop at the $2,000 per ounce level realized two years post the 2008 financial crisis, but possibly higher.

A similar trend was witnessed post the increase in 1971, except that in every cycle, previous records for the highest gold price reached are usually broken. Not only that, the time elapsed between one cycle and the next is getting shorter.



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