Price of gold bounces with advance of euro, set to end week flat

The gold price has lost nearly 2 percent in value this month.

LONDON: Gold climbed Friday, helped by an advancing euro, but still looked set to end the week on a flat footing as patchy consumer demand weighed and increasing optimism about the economic outlook dampened investor appetite for the metal.

Global equities drifted lower Friday, touching eight-month peaks earlier in the week, and were pulled down by a decline in U.S. home sales as concerns about global growth cooled enthusiasm.

This month, the gold price has lost nearly 2 percent in value as a shift in the perception among investors of the health of the U.S. economy in particular has made so-called safe-haven assets such as gold or U.S. Treasuries less attractive compared with stocks or higher-yielding currencies.

Spot gold was up around 1 percent at $1,662.21 an ounce by 1500 GMT, having recovered from a low of $1,627.68 Thursday.

“In the last month or two people are taking the view that the kind of tail risks around the outlook for the world economy have diminished,” Standard Chartered analyst Daniel Smith said.

“In terms of the U.S. macro story there’s no doubt it’s been outperforming people’s expectations ... and in terms of Europe, Greece got its second bailout and bond yields in Germany have come in pretty sharply so those kind of things are certainly weighing on gold and have helped to bring prices down,” he said.

The decline in the gold price earlier this week took its toll on investment in exchange-traded funds backed by physical metal, resulting in the largest one-day fall in holdings Friday in months.

“We don’t see a huge amount of downside for gold prices from current levels, and we would be looking for the market to form a base soon and then move higher as we progress through the year,” Smith said, adding that he saw it moving in a range of $1,600 to $1,800 an ounce.

Gold’s inverse correlation to the dollar index, which broke a key level of support Friday, has held for the last week at around -45 percent, indicating that the gold price is tending to move in the opposite direction to the dollar.

While this is normally the case, the unfolding of the euro zone debt crisis last year saw the relationship between the two turn positive for much of 2011 as investors fled the euro and euro-denominated assets.

Markets are attaching lower probability to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s embarking on a fresh round of government-bond buying, or quantitative easing, to keep short-term interest rates low to stimulate growth, and this shift has been a key driver in this month’s fall in the price of gold.

“We think that quantitative easing and abnormally low U.S. interest rates have been a huge support for gold prices. It’s no surprise that the falling gold price recently has been accompanied by quite a significant rise in U.S. interest rates,” said Nic Brown, head of commodity research at Natixis.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 24, 2012, on page 6.




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