Calgary Herald

g gold continues record rise

Currency woes drive up precious metals demand

- FrAnK TAng

old rose to an all-time high for a second straight day Wednesday as the U.S. dollar fell to a 14-month low against the euro, ahead of an expected interest rate hike by the European Central Bank (ECB).

Silver surged to a 31-year peak for a third consecutiv­e day as holdings of the world’s largest silver exchangetr­aded fund hit a record. Precious metals also drew support from renewed sovereign debt fears amid Portugal’s financial crisis and inflation worries as crude oil and corn gently pulled back from new peaks.

On the silver options front, investors used bullish strategies such as call spreads buying and put selling, even as implied volatility stayed largely flat, a sign that the metal is building momentum for another upward move.

“It is unquestion­able that the demand for precious metals derives from the devaluatio­n of the leading currencies — the dollar, the pound and the euro,” said Angelos Dam- askos, a fund manager at Sector Investment Managers.

Spot gold hit a record $1,461.91 an ounce before easing to $1,458.90 an ounce, up 0.6 per cent. U.S. gold futures for June delivery settled up 0.4 per cent to $1,458.50.

The traditiona­l inverse correlatio­n between gold and the U.S. dollar appeared to be strengthen­ing this week to a negative 0.8, as gold rose to successive records, but the link between the two could be erratic in the near term. A correlatio­n of minus 1 indicates a perfect inverse link, and vice versa.

Gold remained far below its alltime inflation-adjusted high, estimated at almost $2,500 an ounce set in 1980, as a result of heightened geopolitic­al pressure and hyperinfla­tion — its highest in more than a year.

The ECB was widely expected to raise its benchmark rate 25 basis points on Thursday, its first hike since the global economic crisis three years ago.

Higher interest rates usually weigh on gold, but the metal could gain if rate differenti­als weaken the U.S. dollar.

Strong investment demand drove silver up more than one per cent to a high of $39.75 — its best since January 1980, when the Hunt Brothers corned the market. Silver eased off the session high to trade at $39.52 an ounce, up 0.7 per cent.

“Either way, you are going to see a significan­t move from here. Even though we were up this much, I think you are going to see an even bigger move,” said Dominick Cognata, a COMEX gold and silver options floor trader.

Holdings of silver in the iShares Silver Trust ETF are at a record 11,162.45 tonnes, up more than 240 tonnes so far this year.

The gold-silver ratio, which shows how many silver ounces are needed to buy an ounce of gold, fell to a 28-year low at below 37. Silver outperform­ed gold in the first quarter, rising 22 per cent, while gold rose 0.7 per cent.

“Silver has outperform­ed gold, but the real leader of this rally is gold. Uncertaint­y in the Middle East, the eurozone sovereign debt crisis and inflation are all reasons why gold is higher,” said Bill O’Neill, of commoditie­s firm LOGIC Advisors.

Reflecting the pickup in investor demand for gold was the first inflow of the metal into the SPUR Gold Trust since March 16.

Investors remained focused on Thursday’s policy meetings by the ECB and by two other major central banks. The Bank of Japan and the Bank of England are expected to hold rates steady.

In the United States, some Federal Reserve officials said they believe they would have to maintain easy monetary policy beyond this year.

 ?? Asif Hassan, AFP-Getty Images ?? A jeweller makes a gold necklace in Karachi on Wednesday, when gold prices rose to historic levels.
Asif Hassan, AFP-Getty Images A jeweller makes a gold necklace in Karachi on Wednesday, when gold prices rose to historic levels.

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