With gold rallying above the psychologically key threshold of $1,400 per ounce in recent days, many analysts have weighed in about the causes of the rally, and the true extent of a sustained upswing in gold prices.
In a note from Tuesday, "What’s behind the rally in gold?," Capital Economics commodities analyst Julian Jessop lists three factors boding well for the precious metal. These include fresh geopolitical risk, sustained demand from Asia and growing market recognition of the true impact of U.S. monetary policy.
For the near future, investors are attracted once again to gold’s value as a haven in times of political instability, wrote Jessop.
“The immediate focus is the threat of Western military intervention in Syria,” he wrote. “Oil prices have risen (and equities fallen) for the same reason.”
Even if the Syria crisis abates, uncertainty about the looming U.S. federal debt ceiling and imminent German elections are further supports for gold, said Jessop. Others have suggested connections between gold prices and debt ceiling battles, especially when the ceiling is raised.
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But Jessop also found that investors were slowly coming to grips with the true impact of Federal Reserve monetary policy on gold prices. Even if there is a tapering of quantitative easing, considered a key economic event for gold markets, there’s a “growing recognition” that U.S. monetary policy will remain loose, with interest rates low, he says.
Tapering talk has failed to boost the U.S. dollar, as markets had anticipated, wrote Jessop, and U.S. bond yield rises have paused, reducing yet another risk to rising gold prices.
Influential investor Dennis Gartman, who has often bet openly against gold, also told CNBC on Monday that the budding gold rally is unlikely to run out of steam.
“I’m not a gold bug. I’m not a believer in gold, but it is a bull market in gold,” said Gartman, who has recently highlighted buying gold in Japanese yen terms as especially favorable. “It’s still going higher. It wants to move, I think, a great good deal higher.”
Gartman identified geopolitical risk as the most powerful recent catalyst of the rally. He described U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement Monday threatening Syria as “weak,” saying it quickly drove gold to trend above $1,400.
Barclays PLC (LON:BARC) gold analysts noted that the largest inflow into gold investment products so far this year happened over recent days.
Even Jessop noted a number of long-term factors working against gold, however.
“We are not about to get carried away on the upside for gold either,” wrote Jessop. “U.S. real yields should still trend higher over the next few years. … A rise in bond yields and eventual increase in official interest rates will increase the opportunity cost of holding gold.”