In his weekly market review, Frank Holmes of the USFunds.com nicely summarizes for gold investors this week’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the gold market. Gold closed the week at $1,216.98 down $12.76 per ounce (-1.04%). Gold stocks, as measured by the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index, fell 5.44%. The U.S. Trade-Weighted Dollar Index rose 0.63% for the week.
Gold Market Strengths
China officially opened the Shanghai Free Gold Exchange on Thursday. By giving foreign investors direct access to its gold market for the first time, China is seeking to obtain more influence over prices while simultaneously boosting the global use of its currency, the yuan. In addition to the deregulation of the gold market in Shanghai, Hong Kong’s Chinese Gold and Silver Exchange Society was given permission to set up a precious metals vault in Shenzhen this week. The continued deregulation of the gold market by the world’s largest consumer is a huge boost to the precious metal.
In the first eight months of this year, Shanghai imported $15.98 billion of gold, a staggering indicator of demand in China. Furthermore, last Thursday, two tonnes of gold was imported into Shanghai, indicating that gold imports into the city are not slowing down.
China is planning on boosting its gold reserves. The country’s reserves, a mere 1.1 percent of total reserves, have plenty of room to grow if when compared to nations such as the United States and Germany, which hold roughly 70 percent of their reserves as gold. The increase in gold demand from Chinese central bank purchases should place upward pressure on gold prices.
Gold Market Weaknesses
Despite historically being the best month for gold, September has shown nothing but declining gold prices. The typical increase in demand from India due to the festival season appears to be overshadowed by the extraordinary strength of the U.S. dollar and its negative effect on gold prices.
Gold traders have become the most bearish in three months, according to a survey from Bloomberg. The poor market sentiment is the result of the Federal Reserve lifting its median estimate for the Federal Funds rate by the end of 2015.
The ratio between gold prices and global equities, as measured by the MSCI ACWI, has declined to its lowest level since September 2008. The low point is due to the unusual headwinds for gold as of late and the continued strength of equities. It will be interesting to see if the strength in equities continues in the near future.
Gold Market Opportunities
Despite overall market sentiment favoring equities, George Soros has decided to bet on gold. Soros increased his bearish position in equities by 605 percent last quarter. The world famous investor did double down his position on gold mining ETFs, while also adding many gold companies.