Gold prices struggled Wednesday under the weight of three factors, the absence of which would sharply boost the chance of the yellow metal to resume its climb toward $2,000 per troy ounce.
On Monday gold concluded its biggest three-day plunge in nearly 30 years, and from its early September high of $1,923, it was down 17 percent.
Since its latest huge drop, a few investors have been cautiously moving in, waiting for a resumption of what many analysts think will be an inevitable climb to $2,000 or higher. At the moment, though, three things are keeping more investors from precious metals, especially gold, and thus a resumption of its return to a higher altitude.
American dollars. Dollars are the anti-gold. Lately the greenback has been moving as inversely to the yellow metal as bond interest rates move to bond prices. Experts say the dollar is headed higher, which means a handicap for gold.
The greenback looks poised to recoup the losses from earlier this week as it maintains the upward trend from the beginning of the month, said David Song of DailyFX.com.
When the dollar falls, look for gold to rise.
Finnish lawmakers. By a 106-30 vote on Wednesday, legislators in Helsinki voted to approve an expansion of a fund to buy the bonds of weak European nations. The Finnish lawmakers approved an expansion to $600 billion from $340 million of the European Financial Stability Facility, agreed on by euro-zone leaders at a July 21 summit. So far the expansion has been approved by Spain, France, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Greece, Ireland and Slovenia. The next step in this process comes Thursday when German lawmakers will vote on the facility's expansion.
If Finnish lawmakers had voted down the measure, gold would have climbed.
Global hope. Much of the world's investment community has started going long on longing itself, specifically longing that Europe will put a believable fence around Greece and that American leaders will find a way to maintain their economy's pulse.
This sort of longing is akin to Julie Andrews' memorable song in The Sound of Music in which she sings that she has confidence in confidence alone. Just because it worked once for an ex-nun on the silver screen doesn't mean it will pan out for investors.
But that's what's been happening.
I think the markets have rallied on hope rather than reality, Nick Stamenkovic, fixed income strategist at RIA Capital Markets Ltd. in Edinburgh, Scotland, told CNN. The market is very concerned that the funding for Greece may not come at a good time for them, referring to the October default deadline for Greece to meet its budget-cutting obligations.
Happily, hope as an investment strategy is being abused in those corners of the financial world that remain sober.
Look, you can trade around hope if you have the skill set set to read the charts accurately, but there is no investing textbook that has hope as one of its chapters, David A. Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist of Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc. If we've said it once we've said it a thousand times: Hope rarely, if ever, has proven to be an effective investment strategy.