LAWRIE WILLIAMS: UPDATE: GLD turnaround very positive for gold
Gold showed signs of weakness through most of April and May and no less than 35 tonnes of gold were liquidated out of GLD, the world’s largest gold ETF, between April 1st and the Memorial Day holiday on May 27th. But as so often seems to be the case, the U.S. holiday seemed to trigger a turning point and, since then, GLD has added around 20 tonnes of gold to its holdings (although there was a withdrawal yesterday when the gold price turned down a few dollars - we think temporarily). And the GLD increase has coincided with a very sharp uptick in the gold price which is currently approaching $1,340 spot as I write, after a brief stutter – a big increase from a low point of around $1,275 only a week ago.
This is no coincidence as both the GLD deposits and the rising gold price signify a major change in sentiment about the prospects for gold from some of the big money funds. Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater, reputed to be the world’s biggest hedge fund with around $150 billion under management, has been leading the clarion call for gold. Dalio is said to be a gold believer and is reported as recently having his fund increase its gold exposure in the light of what he sees as an escalating trade war between the U.S. and China which he regards as potentially moving out of control. In a recent blog post he noted “History shows that countries in conflict have seen that such conflicts can easily slip beyond their control and become terrible wars that all parties, including the leaders who got their countries into them, deeply regretted, so the parties in the negotiations should be careful that that doesn’t happen. Right now we are seeing brinksmanship negotiations, so it is a risky time.”
While that may be a contentious assessment of the current trade negotiations, many feel that Dalio has a strong point here and President Trump’s ‘shoot from the hip’ approach to weaponise U.S.-assumed financial clout certainly has huge dangers – not least for segments of the U.S.’s own economy. National leaders, who have ‘face’ to protect - particularly China - may not cave in to bullying tactics of this type as easily as Trump’s business rivals may have done in the past. Equity markets in the U.S. and globally are looking nervous and there are fears around of a full-on global recession.
Where Dalio is seen to go, others follow, so it is not too surprising that GLD seems to be seeing gold inflows. The big question is how far can this apparent change in sentiment boost the gold price before it is seen as having risen too far too fast with a correction coming back in?
But meanwhile there are other elements boosting the gold price – not least a falling U.S. dollar index which usually coincides with a rising gold price. Geopolitical tensions seem to be ever-present, there are ongoing tariff, counter-tariff and economic sanction impositions, the U.S. Fed is now seen as more likely to cut interest rates rather than raise them, equity market nervousness, central bank gold buying, etc. All these would seem to be in favour of an increasing role for gold globally. Thus the target for a $1,400 plus gold price in the second half of the year would seem to be comfortably in play again. Indeed even higher price levels may come about should some of the current global tensions remain unresolved or escalate further.
06 Jun 2019