Many can be forgiven for thinking that gold has finished its run given the price drop seen in April 2013. The yellow metal has realized a serious drop from the mid $1,550s per Troy ounce to below $1,400 an ounce for the first time since the end of 2010. As of the third week of April, the precious metal is just barely creeped up again above the $1,400 mark. The major sell-off was the result of one major trader dumping a considerable position, which in turn then caused a panic of selling for the rest of the week.
So where does gold investing go for those wondering whether it’s time to hold back versus put more money in and lose? Others are asking, alternatively, if it’s time to take their money out, cutting losses from going down further as others unload their positions.
The answer sits in what gold still promises versus the rest of the economy and markets.
Expectations for 2013 2nd Quarter
The shift in April clearly shows how fast gold prices can unwind based on public sentiment and movement of large holdings. As many trading experts are aware, the gold market is relatively small compared to other investment environments. As a result, when a large investor moves a significant block, it can have serious price ramifications on everyone else involved. Banks have known this for a long time, as well as institutional holders, and it has been common courtesy in the market to unload large positions a little at a time so as not to cause the panic that happened in April. However, when one player doesn’t want to follow the courtesy rules, then it can have serious ramifications.
The average gold investor can’t impact how big players move in gold markets, that much is certain. In some respects, individual gold investing is completely at the whim of where the big players want to go, making profits only on guessing the direction ahead of time. Even expert traders can only guess on what’s going on for their own positions and that of their brokerages. Some trading experts expect gold to recover a bit, but not to get back up above $1,500 an ounce for 2013. $1,480 an ounce is a more likely top position. Given this prognostication, April’s current position just above $1,400 would then be a good time to buy, eventually providing almost a six percent return on the investment.
Follow the Charts
If a chart-based investor where to predict the general direction of gold just based on price performance, the chart direction would be obvious. Since mid-2011, the direction of gold prices has been heading downward in a very slight decline. It wasn’t until the end of the first quarter of 2013 that the decrease has accelerated the angle of descent. However, as chart observers will notice with a five-year price chart of gold, there have been at least four drastic price drops in the metal since 2011 and then subsequent price climbs. So chart-tracking investors have likely been a bit confused and fatally optimistic, hoping that gold prices would again return to their former highs.
The Bank Position
Central banks, on the other hand, have a keen interest in gold because it provides a monetary hedge against their own country currencies. As a result, when gold prices drop, banks normally gobble up positions to add to their strengths, enjoy the bargains and discounts pricing. It is expected by traders and market watchers that central banks will continue to be the main players in the gold market for the near future.
At the moment, banks continue to be buyers. That makes a significant difference for those thinking about current or future gold positions. In the 1990s, banks actively divested themselves of gold, causing an institutional deflation of the gold price market. Prices fell so low, the cost of gold mining and production was almost hitting a breakeven point. So far, a redux is not occurring, yet.
Another drag on gold can also be the rising positions of platinum and palladium as precious metals worth investing in. Both are in high demand, and both are suffering supply issues. Unlike gold, however, palladium and platinum have industrial uses. So shortages in mining production out of South Africa and inventories out of Russia have caused the two metals to rise in price. With gold value dropping, many precious metal investors are eying the other side, considering a switch to a rising metal to continue to make back gains or offset gold losses. That too causes further deflation in the gold price support as more individuals leave their positions.
If the U.S. dollar goes week again, it could boost gold once more. The yellow metal has frequently been a hedge against a weak U.S. currency, offsetting devaluation as well as inflation fears. The recent upswing in the dollar and strengthening of the national economy has been one of the factors weakening the support for gold currently. However, the price of gold doesn’t exactly lineup with economic changes as they occur. For example, job data reports that came out in the beginning of April showed the U.S. growth had slowed down as hiring slowed. However, home sales have been booming in many states, keeping economic growth going or adding to revenues of impacted businesses. So again, the immediate outlook is very mixed in terms of what will drive gold up or down over the next six months.
The next few months will require individual gold investors to keep themselves informed. The market is highly volatile and, as April 2013 has shown, pricing can change dramatically and quickly. Monex market data can provide an investor a wealth of information and updates on what’s happening with gold worldwide, keeping an investor in the loop. The worst thing a person can do is stick his proverbial head in the sand and hope for the best. Staying informed provides the advantageous position to act and still make gold a worthwhile investment.