Gold feeds off Trump’s rage
The Donald Trump era is marking a new age for gold as an investor haven. While the precious metal has always been hoarded in times of trouble, a collection of political and economic surprises in 2016 sparked a surge in buying that sent bullion to the first annual gain in four years.
Prices may rally 12% in 2017, according to a Bloomberg survey of 26 analysts. Fuelling the bullish outlook is the risk of chaos on multiple fronts: a possible trade war from America’s fraying relationship with China, the alleged Russian hack of US political parties, the UK’s complicated exit from the EU, and the elections expected in France, Germany and the Netherlands that may see a rise of nationalist groups.
And then there are Trump’s frequent Twitter posts, in which the US president elect has feuded with rivals and made declarations that have unsettled allies even before he has taken office on January 20.
“A hundred and forty characters of unfiltered Trump is likely to create tensions with America’s largest trading partners,” Mark O’Byrne, a director at gold broker GoldCore in Dublin, Ireland, said via email. “Markets that are already shaken by the fallout from Brexit, the coming elections in Europe and indeed the increasing spectre of cyber warfare could again see a safehaven bid.”
Gold for immediate delivery is up 9.2% this year to $1 158.73 an ounce, halting a three-year slide.
More than two-thirds of the analysts and traders surveyed from Singapore to New York are bullish for 2017.
The median year-end forecast was $1 300, with the year’s peak seen at $1 350. Two, including O’Byrne, said the metal may reach $1 600.
Demand for bullion would get a boost if elections in Europe saw gains by antiestablishment parties, according to Commerzbank analysts led by Eugen Weinberg.
Increased protectionist policies and the potential for a trade war between Trump’s administration and China might also help push gold higher, they said.
In a growing number of countries, “there are nationalistic tendencies, more isolationist tendencies”, said Peter Marrone, the CEO of Toronto-based Yamana Gold, which owns mines in Canada and South America. “That will create geopolitical and socioeconomic volatility, perhaps instability, certainly risk.”
That doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons to be bearish. After starting 2016 with the biggest first-half rally in four decades, prices fell from their peak in July and investors have cut back on bullion holdings. That was mostly because an improving US economy and higher interest rates made other assets more attractive, including equities.
Four of the analysts in the Bloomberg survey predicted bullion would drop below $1 000 in 2017, particularly if the Federal Reserve raises interest rates three times next year and Trump makes good on his pledge to boost infrastructure spending to spur economic growth.
Holdings of the metal in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) – which had reached a threeyear high in October – dropped for 33 consecutive days after the US election on November 8, the longest slide since 2004, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Goldman Sachs Group analysts said in a note on November 21 that the bulk of new investments in gold-backed ETFs were losing money and that further selling in ETFs could exacerbate price declines.
Citigroup also cited downside risks from a potential selloff in gold ETFs, while Bank of America Merrill Lynch said the metal was in the doldrums as the economic policy outlined by Trump pushes rates higher.
Singapore-based OCBC Bank’s Barnabas Gan, an economist whose prediction was the most accurate among gold forecasters tracked by Bloomberg in the third quarter, sees the metal falling to $1 100 by the end of 2017.
Still, signs of optimism remain. A poll by Bloomberg Intelligence on November 10 showed 42% of respondents predict that gold will be the best-performing metal in 2017.
Ronald Stoeferle, managing partner at asset manager Incrementum and the most accurate among the precious metals forecasters tracked by Bloomberg last quarter, said the metal would rally to $1 422 because the Fed may turn out to be more dovish than expected, which would mean an acceleration of inflation that boosts the appeal of gold.
“Gold is mania-prone, both on the upside and the downside,” said Christopher Cruden, CEO of Insch Capital Management in Lugano, Switzerland. His gold fund is up 39% this year.
“It’s irrational, but that could be used to your advantage,” Cruden said. “If you are on the right side of the irrationality, you can do well.” – Fin24