Gold is headed down for the next few months, after the precious metal stood its ground against prevailing bearish winds in October for a short spell, according to a UBS AG (VTX:UBSN) research note from Tuesday.
UBS precious metals analyst Joni Teves downgraded her gold price targets to $1180 per ounce in the coming month, and $1100/oz in the coming three months.
The $1180 price is the lowest gold has sunk all year, back in June amid fears of a Federal Reserve tapering. That also comes in the context of a very volatile year for gold markets, which have watched the yellow metal plunge some 20 percent in value.
Teves cites “current pressure on gold and the lack of supporting catalysts up ahead” as reasons for her downgrade.
The pressure refers specifically to a gold market obsession with U.S. monetary policy and Federal Reserve tapering. The latter is seen as negative for gold prices, which rose quickly over heavy bouts of quantitative easing in the past few years, on fears of unchecked inflation and an unimpressive equity market.
“While gold did exhibit some strength into the second half of October, the performance was hardly impressive,” wrote Teves. “The failure to venture beyond $1360 [per ounce] was a clear testament to much weaker sentiment than anticipated.”
Demand for physical gold from emerging markets, traditionally a support for gold, has been scarce, too. Indian import regulations have constrained supplies there and driven local prices for gold through the roof.
In recent weeks, those betting on gold were reluctant to increase their exposure, and those that did bet on gold used brief rallies to quickly book profits, according to Teves.
“The arduous task of absorbing investor selling falls on China’s shoulders,” she wrote. Other analysts have highlighted Chinese consumer demand as the single most bullish factor for gold this year, in an otherwise grim year for the metal.
Resilient Chinese appetite for gold, however, is unlikely to outweigh gold outflows from gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and those betting against gold on commodities exchanges. Gold held in ETFs was at three year lows, led by outflows from the massive GLD SPDR fund.
Prospects also won’t brighten anytime soon, according to Teves. A decision on tapering in 2014 will trigger a fresh round of selling, which will likely coincide with seasonal lows in physical demand.
Already pushed up and down by these diverse factors, gold prices could even start taking cues from geopolitical tensions out of the Middle East, said HSBC Holdings plc (LON:HSBA) gold analyst James Steel in a note from Monday.
“In the near term, gold prices may be more strongly linked to oil and Middle East tensions than has generally been the case since the financial crisis,” he wrote, highlighting oil price volatility on the back of a U.S.-Iran nuclear pact.
Amid all the downcast sentiment, though, there may be one glimmer of hope for gold investors.
Asset manager Adrian Day told investors in San Francisco on Monday that the stocks of gold mining companies, who include giants like Barrick Gold Corp. (TSE:ABX), are now great bargains.
Their cheapness makes them a real investment opportunity, and the time to buy is now, he told a metals and minerals conference. Day described the stock prices, which have declined by double digit percentage points this year, as “stunning buys”, given current lows.