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Message: Four Keys to Gold’s Next Move

Four Keys to Gold’s Next Move

posted on Sep 13, 2009 09:44AM

Four Keys to Gold’s Next Move by: Jeffrey Nichols September 11, 2009

Gold may have moved too high too soon . . . but whether or not the metal manages to recoup and hold onto recent gains near or above the $1000 an ounce level in the days immediately ahead . . . we are nevertheless looking for new highs (above $1032) in the closing months of the year with gold possibly at $1200 or $1300 before the New Year.

Key One: India

I’ve just returned from India, one of the most crucial markets for gold with a long history and big appetite for the yellow metal. What happens next for gold may depend most on the strength — or weakness — of Indian buying. And, Indian buying is both price sensitive and in sync with various holidays, festivals, and the wedding seasons.

With current rupee-denominated prices near historic highs, many are waiting either for a correction or evidence of staying power before returning to the market for new purchases. And while festival and wedding-related buying is expected later this month, the two-week period up to September 19th is considered inauspicious for gold purchases and many potential buyers will wait until later in the month.

If gold can remain near $1000 for the next week or two, giving Indians a sense of confidence that the price is not about to retreat, we can imagine stronger buying interest sufficient to get the price moving toward its previous historic peak and beyond into uncharted territory.

Key Two: China

Official — but unreported — buying on behalf of the central bank and possibly the country’s sovereign wealth fund, the China Investment Corporation, is being joined by growing private-sector demand for both investment bars and jewelry.

Press reports suggest that the Chinese government has adopted a new — more positive — attitude toward private-sector buying of both gold and silver. With China now the number one gold-mining country, it is in their interest to see a higher gold price as long as demand can be satisfied by domestic mine production and scrap reflows. Additionally, it has been suggested that the new pro-gold policy is intended to channel speculative funds away from real estate and equity investments.

The recently announced agreement for the People’s Bank of China to purchase from the International Monetary Fund about $50 billion in SDR-denominated, IMF-issued interest-bearing securities has also contributed to the latest round of dollar selling . . . and, to the extent that dollar weakness is a plus for gold, this has also supported the early September gold rally.

Key Three: Barrick

Barrick Gold’s (ABX) smart move to buy back its gold hedge position provided a temporary booster shot that helped propel the yellow metal through the $1000 an ounce barrier.

If I remember correctly, as of midyear, Barrick — the world’s largest gold-mine producer — had about 168 tons of gold outstanding on its hedge book . . . and would have to buy back this quantity to regain full exposure to future gold-price moves.

Anticipating an announcement effect, Barrick most likely accelerated its gold repurchase program in the days leading up to the September 7th announcement and probably paused to let the market recover from the news and prices to back off a bit before it resumes its repurchase program. With another tranche still to be repurchased in the months ahead, I expect Barrick to buy into price weakness, helping to underpin the price at moments of weakness.

Key Four: Monetary Factors

Of course, clients and readers of NicholsOnGold know that we think U.S. monetary policy and money supply growth are the primary determinants of U.S. price inflation, U.S. dollar performance, and the future price of gold. Last weekend’s communiqué from the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors was a reminder that monetary stimulus is likely to stay for some time. This — along with last week’s report from the United Nations critical of the U.S. dollar’s roll as a global reserve asset — has pushed the dollar lower in foreign-exchange markets to the benefit of gold.

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