Gold price rally has taken a pause for the first time this year. Fed’s stimulus cut and Chinese New Year holidays have created a major impact on the yellow metal prices.
Fed expectedly tapered $10 billion to $65 billion a month, second such move by central bank to cut back on the stimulus program. In a unanimous decision at the meeting the move was taken, saying labour market showed further improvement and household spending, as well as investment had advanced more quickly in recent months. What followed with this announcement was the rise of bears. Gold fell around 2 percent on Thursday, its biggest one-day drop in more than a month. Signs of faster U.S. economic growth have increased bets that the Federal Reserve would look forward to end the QE3 programme as soon as possible. Moreover when you do not have the largest physical buyer in the market, finding some support is obviously difficult. It shows how much important is Chinese demand for Gold. This was supported by sharp emerging market sell off, which had boosted gold prices earlier this week, hitting gold’s safe-haven appeal.
Gold ETF flows were pretty mixed, with the SPDR GLD holdings rising 2.1 tonnes, while ZKB holdings fell 1.9 tonnes and Deutsche Bank’s ETF lost 970 kilos.
I did note that U.S. economy grew by a respectable 3.2% annualized in Q4 but the reduction of China’s HSBC Final Manufacturing PMI data to 49.5 in January and Manufacturing PMI to 50.5, indicates that the global economy is still fragile. Nevertheless, as the stock prices stabilized and the emerging countries vowed to stem the currency panic, the U.S. Dollar rallied while the gold prices fell. The U.S. dollar strengthened and the S&P 500 stock market index rose more than 1 percent after data showed that robust household spending and rising exports have supported US growth.
In other precious metals, platinum fell nearly 2 percent, tracking losses in gold. Platinum mining in South Africa, which accounts for 70 percent of global supplies of the metal, has been curbed since the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union called its members on strike on Jan. 23 at Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. (IMP) and Lonmin Plc. (LMI) The AMCU is dominant in platinum, with more than 70,000 members, and is demanding that basic wages be more than doubled to 12,500 rand a month. Talks aimed at resolving the dispute resume tomorrow, in Pretoria. While the negotiations have failed to achieve “tangible progress,” the companies and the union were pursuing a settlement, AMCU treasurer Jimmy Gama said. Even with all this, metal drew little support from the news that South Africa’s AMCU union had rejected a 9 percent wage offer from leading platinum producers.
As expected the bears started to take the overhand in Silver during the same sell off. It touched a low of 19 USD levels, which had been the lower band since November. It does act as a major support for the metal.
Despite Thursday’s pullback, gold was still 3 percent higher year to date. Gold has outperformed the S&P 500 by 10.2% this year.
The Emerging market’s currency sell off that happened this week makes me think that the need for alternative currency will never diminish. With a weaker currency, Governments across the world are trying to boost their economic growth wherein lower inflation levels eventually grow when the monetary debasement continues. This leads to devaluation of local currency and in turn Gold prices shoot up in local markets as people look forward to protect their wealth in this alternative currency. This phenomenon is slowly but steadily being witnessed across various countries around the globe and specially emerging markets.
For the first week of February, we need to watch out for US ISM Manufacturing PMI on Feb 3, US ADP Non-Farm Employment Change and US ISM Non-Manufacturing PMI on Feb 5, the U.K. and the ECB monetary policy decisions on Feb. 6 as well as the January U.S. non-farm payrolls and unemployment rate on Feb. 7.