Gold’s Fundamental Outlook For 2017

January 13, 2017

Predicting the future is especially very difficult. Still, let’s try to figure out what investors should expect from the gold market this year. For sure, in the long run, the price of gold will mainly depend on the US dollar, the real interest rates and the market uncertainty. How will these factors develop and affect the gold market?

Well, as one can see in the chart below, the level of investors’ confidence has strengthened recently, as both the market volatility (represented by the CBOE Volatility Index) and credit spreads (illustrated by the BofA Merrill Lynch US High Yield Option-Adjusted Spread) have diminished after the US presidential election. Hence, the risk aversion should be low for a while, and equally so the safe-haven demand for gold. Surely, if such risks as China’s hard landing, the banking crisis in the Eurozone or the turmoil in the US bond markets materialize, gold may again shine as a safe-haven asset. However, investors should remember that gold failed to rally on negative news in 2016, while stock markets flourished.

Chart 1: The CBOE Volatility Index (green line, left axis) and BofA Merrill Lynch US High Yield Option-Adjusted Spread (red line, right axis) in 2016.

And what about the US dollar and real interest rates? As the next chart shows, both indices have been rising since October, which corresponded to the plunge in gold prices.

Chart 2: The U.S. dollar index (green line, left scale, Trade Weighted Major U.S. Dollar Index) and the U.S. real interest rates (green line, left scale, yields on 5-year Treasury Inflation-Indexed Security) in 2016.

Will this trend continue in 2017? Well, it depends mainly on three things: 1) the expected pace of the Fed’s tightening; 2) divergence in the monetary policies among major central banks in the world; 3) the market sentiment toward the Trump’s policies. Let’s analyze them now.

The Fed’s hiking will be gradual, for sure. However, it would be difficult to be more gradual than in 2016, when the US central bank (i.e. the Fed) managed to lift interest rates only once, exactly one year after the previous hike. With the labor market near the full employment and rising inflation and inflationary expectations, two or three hikes in 2017 are not impossible, unless we witness recession, of course. Therefore, the US Dollar Index and real interest rates may be under upward pressure going forward, which would not support the price of gold.

The divergence in the Fed’s stance compared to the rest of world should also strengthen the US currency and real interest rates. The American economy will grow faster than other developed economies, which would translate into more hawkish monetary policy. Just as a reminder, the ECB just extended its monthly asset purchase program by nine months and relaxed its rules, while the FOMC members revised its projections for the Federal Funds Rate in 2017. Given the fact that the interest rates are not going up in the Eurozone any time soon - and a whole bunch of economic problems the Europe faces, including the upcoming important elections in several countries, we believe that the US dollar will strengthen against the Euro in 2017. The same applies also to the USD/JPY exchange rate, especially given the yield curve management introduced by the Bank of Japan in September 2016. As the BoJ tries to maintain the Japanese 10-year rate around zero percent, the spread between US and Japanese real interest rates should widened further, which would strengthen the greenback and soften the price of gold.

The market sentiment toward gold will be shaped also by the expected effects of the new administration’s policies. Donald Trump will take office on January 20, 2017. To be sure we will probably see important changes from the very beginning of the presidency. Investors now await the “great rotation” out of bonds and into stocks, as heavy government spending and higher fiscal deficits under the new president are believed will lead to higher bond yields. If Trump fulfills such hopes, the price of gold will take a hit. On the other hand, if the “Trump rally” turns out to be only a mirage, there will be support for the price of gold.

Summary

The major fundamental forces affecting the gold market in 2017 are: 

  • The strength of the US dollar.
  • The dynamics of the real interest rates.
  • The level of fear in the stock markets.
  • The political and market uncertainty diminished after China’s turmoil.
  • The Brexit vote and the US presidential election.

The world is full of risks, but the sad fact for the gold market is that financial markets showed great resilience to them in 2016, shrugging off practically all bad news, or even rising on them. Therefore, although investors should not downplay the potential threats to the global economy, they should focus on the relationship between gold and the greenback with real interest rates instead of the safe-haven appeal of the yellow metal. We believe that the fundamental outlook for the gold market is rather bearish in the near future, until markets lose their faith in the pro-growth policies of Trump – otherwise financial turmoil will force the Fed to adopt a more dovish stance.

Courtesy of Sunshine Profits

Arkadiusz Sieroń is the author of Sunshine Profits’ monthly gold Market Overview report, in which he keeps subscribers up-to-date regarding key fundamental developments affecting the gold market and helps them prepare for the major changes. Arkadiusz is a certified Investment Adviser, a long-time precious metals market enthusiast and a Ph.D. candidate. He is also a Laureate of the 6th International Vernon Smith Prize.  You can reach Arkadiusz at Sunshine Profits’ contact page.

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With gold stolen by Conquistador Francisco Pizarro from the Inca Empire in 1532, Spain financed its conquest of Europe.