In the first quarter of 2012, U.S. economic data improved and minutes from the latest Federal Reserve interest-rate-setting meeting indicated that officials were less supportive of monetary stimulus.
These developments were perceived as negative for gold because loose U.S. monetary policy, which pushes down the value of the dollar and other currencies that peg to it, is one of the biggest factors that drove up gold prices in recent years.
Rising oil prices, for example, stoked inflation fears and pushed up the price of gold, a traditional hedge against the waning purchasing power of fiat currencies.
Gold is also a hedge against asset deflation, stated the WGC. The dual fears of inflation and deflation in the sovereign debt crisis-plagued euro zone, therefore, have been supportive of the yellow metal.
The WGC also pointed out that aside from the U.S. and its policies, emerging market countries like China and India are also big gold buyers.
Research from GMO LLC, a Boston-based asset management firm, shows that emerging markets were the biggest consumers of gold in the world from 2000 to 2010.
Developments in China and India in first quarter 2012, however, were arguably bearish for gold's outlook, as China's weak economic data and the Indian government's announced import duties and jewelry tax hikes cast doubt on the strength of future demand from the two countries.
The WGC, nevertheless, concluded that gold continued to exhibit a positive (upside) skew in the first quarter of 2012.
Prices of gold fell 0.57 percent, or $9.40, to trade at $1,641.90 per ounce in afternoon trading on Wednesday in New York.