In Gold we Trust

Rising demand for gold and silver reflect the failure of central banks to maintain price stability and efficient functioning of credit markets. Private investor mistrust of fiat currencies was historically an emerging market problem, with countries like India and China holding large private savings in the form of precious metals or real estate.  But now growing US fiscal problems have caused mistrust to spread to the global reserve currency as central banks reduce exposure to the Dollar and increase purchases of gold bullion.

Stocks & Treasuries

The S&P 500 respected support at 5250, the short harami candle indicating uncertainty. Breakout above Thursday’s high would confirm our target of 5500.

S&P 500

Ten-year Treasury yields are testing resistance at 4.5% but the short candle and weak close look tentative and respect is likely.

10-Year Treasury Yield

Gold & Silver

Gold is likely to test support at $2,300 per ounce. Respect is likely and would confirm that the up-trend is intact.

Spot Gold

Silver is similarly poised to test support between $29 and $30 per ounce. Respect of support is again likely to confirm the up-trend.

Spot Silver

Gold Demand from the East

Ronnie Stoeferle — managing director of Liechtenstein-based asset manager Incrementum AG and author of the annual In Gold We Trust report — says that 70% of gold demand is now from the East. Mainly China and India but supported by buying in Vietnam, Thailand and lately Japan.

De-Dollarization

Jeff Currie — chief energy strategist at the Carlyle Group and former Global Head of Commodities Research at Goldman Sachs — says that central banks are now recycling commodity surpluses into Gold, not Dollars. When prices are high, crude oil producers generate trade surpluses which they historically have invested in Dollar-based assets — mainly US Treasuries — but are now investing in gold.

The Saudis and Russia are increasingly selling crude oil and gas in Yuan and Rupees which they then use to import goods from China and India. Any remaining surplus is then used to purchase gold as they do not want to hold the currencies in their official reserves. Physical gold is flowing from West to East, to meet increased demand, and driving up prices.

The change has caused a dramatic divergence between gold (brown below) and real long-term interest rates, represented by the TIPS yield (blue) below.

Gold & TIPS Yield

Source: Gainesville Coins

The scale of increased demand and its impact on gold prices is not hard to imagine when one considers that global crude oil production is more than 13 times the Dollar value of total gold output.

USD Value of Gold & Crude Oil Production

Source: FFTT

Central Bank Purchases

China and India are ranked among the top 10 countries in terms of official gold holdings.

Official Gold Reserves by Country - Top 10 Holdings

Source: Gold.org

But many purchases are not made through official channels and go unreported. Jan Nieuwenhuijs estimates that the PBOC actually held close to 5,550 metric tons1 at the end of Q1 2024.

Quarterly Central Bank Gold Buying

Source: Gainesville Coins

Private Purchases

Private gold holdings in China and India dwarf official reserves.

China’s private sector holds approximately 25,700 metric tons2 at the end of Q1 2024, according to Nieuwenhuijs.

India’s gold market is similar in size, with private investors holding between 24,000 and 27,000 metric tons of gold jewellery and bullion according to Blue Hill Research.

Conclusion

Gold demand is driven by a lack of faith in fiat currencies — whether it be US Dollars, Chinese Yuan or Indian Rupees — to maintain their value. Private investors are buying gold as a store of value while central banks are recycling trade surpluses into gold, rather than holding fiat currencies.

Silver and Copper are becoming the “poor man’s gold”, with price-sensitive buyers switching from gold into silver and copper as they grow relatively cheaper.

Countries with high private gold investment are likely to experience low rates of growth. Keyne’s Paradox of Thrift illustrates how savings parked in assets like gold and silver crowd out investment in productive assets, leading to lower growth in output.

Savings invested in debt and equity markets, by comparison, are largely channeled into investment in productive assets3 that contribute to GDP growth.

Efficient credit markets are the lifeblood of the economy, ensuring the transfer of savings into productive investment. Demand for speculative assets — such as precious metals and much real estate — reflect the failure of central banks to maintain price stability. Inflation increases investment risk in debt markets, leading to higher interest rates and increased demand for speculative assets, lowering economic growth. Inflation also accentuates the boom-bust cycle as central banks flip-flop between restrictive and stimulative monetary policy in an attempt to undo the consequences of their failed monetary policies.

The world is edging back towards a “gold standard” of sorts, where trade surpluses are converted to gold — or some other commodity like silver, copper or crude oil — rather than held as currency reserves. While not a perfect system, this would impose greater fiscal discipline on sovereigns, including the US, and contribute to increased price stability. It would also reduce the role of the US Dollar as global reserve currency and help to stem the damage done to the US economy over the past forty years by this “exorbitant privilege”.

Notes

  1. Estimated total PBOC gold holdings are 5,358 metric tons at the end of 2023 plus 189 tons in Q1 of 2024.
  2. Estimated total private gold holdings in China are 23,745 metric tons at the end of 2022 plus 1,411 tons in 2023 and 543 tons in Q1 of 2024.
  3. Debt that finances investment in speculative assets — producing low returns, like many real estate investments — does not contribute much to economic growth.

Acknowledgements

Silver stars as stocks retrace

Markets are retracing to test new support levels after a strong surge during the week on weaker than expected inflation data. Silver and Gold are the exception, making new highs, with demand fueled by lower long-term Treasury yields, a weaker Dollar, and strong buying from China.

Stocks

The S&P 500 is retracing to test support at 5200/5250. Higher Trend Index troughs indicate buying pressure. Respect of support is likely and would confirm our target of 5500.

S&P 500

In Australia, the ASX 200 retreated from resistance at 7900. Follow-through below 7700 would warn of another test of support at 7500/7550. Rising Trend Index troughs, however, warn that respect is more likely — that would mean another test of the all-time high.

ASX 200

Financial Markets

Ten-year Treasury yields retraced to test new resistance between 4.4% and 4.5%. Respect is likely and would signal a decline to test support between 4.1% and 4.2%.

10-Year Treasury Yield

Financial market liquidity is improving, with commercial bank reserves at the Fed recovering after a sharp fall during April tax payment season.

Commercial Bank Reserves at Fed

The Chicago Fed Financial Conditions Index is again falling, signaling easier monetary conditions.

Chicago Fed Financial Conditions Index

Bitcoin (BTC) recovered above the former $64K support level, confirming easier financial conditions. Retracement that respects the new support level would strengthen the signal.

Bitcoin (BTC)

Economic Activity

Real retail sales are edging lower but remain in line with their pre-pandemic trend (dotted line) — supported by full employment, lower inflation and government spending to secure critical supply chains.

Advance Real Retail Sales

Light vehicle sales remain below 2019 levels but sales above 15 million continue to reflect robust consumer sentiment.

Light Vehicle Sales

Heavy truck sales rebounded to 40.2K units, indicating reasonable business activity. Continuation of the recent down-trend, however, with a fall below 37.5K, would signal that the economy is slowing. Breach of 35K would warn that a recession is imminent.

Heavy Truck Sales

Precious Metals & the Dollar

The Dollar index is retracing to test new resistance at 105. Lower Trend Index peaks warn of selling pressure and respect of resistance is likely, offering a short-term target of 103.

Dollar Index

Silver is the star performer of the week, climbing steeply to close at $31.43 per ounce, following a brief pause on Thursday. Rising Trend Index troughs indicate strong buying pressure and our target of $32 is likely to be broken.

Spot Silver

Gold also displays buying pressure, although the Trend Index rise is not as steep as Silver. Expect retracement to test the new support level at $2400 per ounce, but respect is likely and would confirm our target of $2500.

Spot Gold

The chart below from Jan Nieuwenhuijs shows Gold as a percentage of global central bank reserves, from 1880 to today. There is plenty of potential for holdings to increase as central banks attempt to diversify away from a Dollar-based global reserve currency.

Gold as a percentage of International Reserves

China: Gold Demand

China sold a record amount of Treasury and US agency bonds in the first quarter as it diversifies away from US financial assets. Bloomberg:

Beijing offloaded a total of $53.3 billion of Treasuries and agency bonds combined in the first quarter, according to calculations based on the latest data from the US Department of the Treasury. Belgium, often seen as a custodian of China’s holdings, disposed of $22 billion of Treasuries during the period.

China: Reserves

At the same time, China is rapidly increasing its official Gold holdings.

China: Gold Holdings

China’s domestic Gold price consistently shows a strong premium over the international price, currently RMB 567 per gram (Au99.99) versus 558.8 for the iAu99.99 international contract on the Shanghai Gold Exchange. The cause of strong domestic Gold demand is not hard to find.

China: Home Prices

Chinese investors have in the past favored residential real estate as a store of wealth but growth in real estate prices ended in 2021. Investors are now switching their focus to Gold.

Crude Oil

Nymex light crude respected support at $79 per barrel. Penetration of the secondary (orange) trendline would suggest that a base is forming. Lower crude oil and gasoline prices are likely to ease inflationary pressure.

Nymex Light Crude

Conclusion

Silver is the star performer of the week, rising steeply to close at $31.43 per ounce. Gold also broke resistance — breakout above $2400 per ounce offering a target of $2500.

Stocks are bullish after weaker than expected CPI growth for April. The S&P 500 is likely to respect support at 5200/5250, confirming our target of 5500.

Ten-year Treasury yields are also softening on weaker inflation data. Respect of resistance at 4.4% to 4.5% would offer a target between 4.1% and 4.2%. Lower yields are likely to weaken the Dollar, further boosting Gold and Silver prices.

China continues to switch its official reserves from US Treasuries to Gold. Coupled with strong domestic demand from Chinese investors — disillusioned with real estate and the weakening Yuan — combined official and private investor demand from China is expected to maintain upward pressure on bullion prices.

Acknowledgements

Iran attacks Israel

Markets are overshadowed by news that Iran directly attacked Israel in retaliation for the bombing of its embassy in Damascus which killed two high-ranking Iranian generals.

Iran

This is a significant escalation in Iran’s on-going proxy war against Israel.

Russia and its allies are emboldened by the US failure to support Ukraine and are stepping up their attacks on Western allies.

Iran

Mick Ryan (retired Australian Maj. General) writes:

…What is Iran’s ultimate goal here and its strategy to achieve it? This is a major shift in the way the Iranians have attacked Israel for years. Proxy forces are normally Iran’s preference in order to keep it at arm’s length from a potential Israeli response. Why has it decided on such a drastic course change in its strategy to confront Israel?

He lays out four options for retaliation — ranging from no direct response to a massive hammer blow to deter a repeat — and concludes:

All of these are possible in the hours and days ahead. All have advantages, as well as considerable disadvantages, for the Israelis. But one thing is certain, the concept of ‘re-establishing deterrence’ against Iran will be an important guiding idea.

And, it is uncertain whether the Iranians are really prepared for what they may have unleashed against their country and the wider region.

Flight to Safety

Given the high level of uncertainty, we can expect a significant flight to safe haven assets. Stocks are expected to weaken, with the S&P 500 breaching support at 5100 to signal a secondary correction.

S&P 500

The S&P 500 Equal-Weighted Index ($IQX) has already warned of a market move to risk-off after breaching support at 6650. A test of support at 6400 is likely.

S&P 500 Equal-Weighted Index ($IQX)

The Russelll 2000 Small Caps ETF (IWM) has similarly breached support at 200, warning of a correction to 190.

Russelll 2000 Small Caps ETF (IWM)

Brent crude is expected to test resistance at $96 per barrel.

Brent Crude

10-Year Treasury yields are already retracing and headed for a test of new support at 4.35%. Respect is likely, however, and would confirm an advance to test resistance at 5.0%.

10-Year Treasury Yield

The Dollar Index may not follow 10-year Treasury yields, with safe haven demand fueling a test of 107.

Dollar Index

Gold saw significant profit-taking on Friday after reaching our target of $2400 per ounce earlier in the day. Retracement is likely to respect support at $2300, followed by a strong advance fueled by safe-haven demand.

Spot Gold

The international contract on the Shanghai Gold Exchange (iAu99.99) is trading at 562 Yuan/gram. This equates to a USD price of $2415 per troy ounce — a sizable premium over Friday’s close at $2344.

Silver has retraced to test support at $28 per ounce. Respect is likely, signaling a test of resistance at $29 per ounce. Breakout above $29 would offer a long-term target of $36 per ounce.

Spot Silver

Bitcoin is consolidating below resistance at $72K. Breakout is likely and would offer a target of $92K, while reversal below support at $64K would warn of a correction to test $52K.

Bitcoin

Conclusion

Escalation in the Iran-Israel conflict is likely to drive crude oil prices to new highs as geopolitical risk rises. Inflationary pressures are expected to climb as a result, reducing the possibility of Fed rate cuts this year.

Other geopolitical factors could intervene, including the Saudis increasing production to hold crude oil prices below $100 per barrel. Above $100 is considered unsustainable by many producers and believed to lead to sharp falls in demand as the global economy contracts in response.

Financial markets, stocks and precious metals are likely to be dominated by safe-haven demand in the weeks ahead. A shift from small caps — and even the broad S&P 500 to the largest “magnificent seven” tech stocks — is expected as investors grow increasingly risk averse. Demand for Gold & Silver is expected to rise. The Dollar is likely to strengthen, along with short-/medium-term Treasuries. But long-term yields are unclear because of conflicting inflation/safe-haven pressures.

Acknowledgements

 

Gold breaks $1850 per ounce

10-Year Treasury yields remain soft despite the recent CPI spike. The Fed is weighting purchases more to the long end of the yield curve. Breakout above 1.75% (green line) would signal a fresh advance.

10-Year Treasury Yield

10-Year TIPS yield sits at -0.78%, unaffected by the $369bn in overnight Fed reverse repurchase agreements which remove liquidity but mainly affect short-term interest rates.

10-Year TIPS Yield & Fed RRP

Gold broke through resistance at $1850/ounce. A rising Trend Index indicates medium-term buying pressure. Long tails on the last three daily candles indicate retracement to test the new support level; respect signals a test of $1950/ounce.

Spot Gold

Silver is testing resistance at $28/ounce. Rising Trend Index indicates medium-term buying pressure. Breakout above $28 is likely and would offer a target of $30/ounce in the short/medium-term.

Spot Silver

The Dollar index is testing primary support between 89 and 90. Rising Trend Index (below zero) suggests another test of the descending trendline. Respect is likely and breach of primary support would offer a medium/long-term target of 851.
Dollar Index

From Luke Gromen at FFTT:

When you are an externally-financed twin deficit nation with insufficient external funding (as Druckenmiller pointed out), there are three potential release valves:

  1. Higher unemployment.
  2. Higher interest rates.
  3. Lower currency (inflation.)

With US debt/GDP at 130%, Options #1 and #2 aren’t an option……

Conclusion

We expect long-term Treasury yields to remain low while inflation rises, causing the US Dollar to sink and Gold and Silver to advance.

Our long-term target for Gold of $3,000 per troy ounce2.

Notes

  1. Dollar Index (DXY) target of 85 is calculated as the peak of 93 extended below support at 89.
  2. Gold LT target calculation: base price of $1840/ounce + [TIPS yield of -0.87% – (nominal Treasury yield of 1.64% – real inflation rate of 5.30%)] * $400/ounce = $2956/ounce

Gold testing resistance despite Dollar rise

Signing of the US-China phase one trade deal did little to quell demand for Gold, with the precious metal continuing to test resistance at $1560/ounce. But a strengthening Dollar makes another test of primary support at $1450 likely.

Gold (USD/ounce)

Silver is similarly testing resistance at $18 to $18.50, but declining Trend Index peaks below zero warn of stronger selling pressure. Expect another test of support at $16.50.

Silver (USD/ounce)

The Dollar Index rallied off support at 96.50. Breakout above 98 would offer a medium-term target of 99.50.

Dollar Index

China’s Yuan, on the other hand, is strengthening against the Greenback, with rising Trend Index troughs indicating buying pressure. Expect retracement to test support at 14.35 US cents, but the outlook for the Yuan against the Dollar is bullish and respect of support would offer a target of 15 US cents.

CNYUSD

10-Year Treasury yields are ranging between support at 1.70% and resistance at 2.00%. A rising Yuan is bullish for yields and may cause another test of resistance at 2.0%. Breakout would offer a target of 2.50%. But increased use of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) as collateral in Fed repo operations may help to suppress long-term yields.

10-Year Treasury Yields

In summary:

  • A rising US Dollar is bearish for Gold.
  • Rising treasury yields increase the opportunity cost of holding precious metals and are bearish for Gold.
  • Geo-political instability (e.g. ongoing US-China/US-Iran tensions) is bullish for Gold.
  • Low oil prices and low inflation are bullish for the Dollar and bearish for Gold.

Nymex Light Crude

Australia

Australia’s All Ordinaries Gold Index is testing resistance at 7200 after a brief retracement to 6800. Breakout from the trend channel is bullish for Gold stocks. Follow-through above 7200 would strengthen the signal.

All Ordinaries Gold Index

Patience

Gold is in a long-term up-trend and the current correction may offer an attractive entry point. We have a breakout from the downward trend channel but could still experience a re-test of support at 6000. Proceed with caution.

Gold bearish on imminent phase 1 deal

The U.S. and China are finalizing a bevy of long-running corporate deals ahead of a high-profile ceremony to sign a trade deal next week that the world’s largest economies seek to cast as a major breakthrough and a marked warming in the relationship. Along with a Chinese delegation led by top negotiator Vice Premier Liu He, executives from American and Chinese companies will also attend the White House event to sign the phase-one agreement on Jan. 15, said the people, who asked not be named discussing private plans. (Bloomberg)

Gold retreated on news that signing of the US-China phase 1 deal is imminent. A tall shadow on the weekly chart warns of selling pressure.  Another test of primary support at $1450 is likely.

Gold (USD/ounce)

Silver also retreated, while declining Trend Index peaks below zero warn of strong selling pressure. Expect another test of support at $16.50.

Silver (USD/ounce)

China’s Yuan broke resistance at 14.35 US cents, while rising Trend Index troughs indicate buying pressure. Expect retracement to test support, but the outlook for the Yuan against the Dollar is turning bullish.

CNYUSD

10-Year Treasury yields found support at 1.70% and a rising Yuan is likely to cause another test of resistance at 2.0%. Breakout would offer a target of 2.50%.

10-Year Treasury Yields

Rising treasury yields increase the opportunity cost of holding precious metals and are bearish for Gold.

Australia

Australia’s All Ordinaries Gold Index penetrated the upper border of its downward trend channel but this week’s tall shadow warns of selling pressure and another test of support at 6000.

All Ordinaries Gold Index

Respect of support at 6000, with follow-through above 7000, would signal that a base has formed.

Patience

Gold is in a long-term up-trend and the current correction may offer an attractive entry point. But we first need a clear breakout from the downward trend channel to confirm that the up-trend is intact.

Gold rallies as the Dollar weakens but rising yields may counteract

Gold rallied off support at $1450, testing resistance at $1500/$1520. Lower Trend Index peaks continue to warn of long-term selling pressure and another test of support at $1450 is likely.

Gold (USD/ounce)

Silver is similarly  testing resistance at $18.00/ounce, while declining Trend Index peaks warn of LT selling pressure.  Expect another test of support at $16.50.

Silver (USD/ounce)

China’s Yuan is testing resistance at 14.35 US cents, while rising Trend Index troughs suggest buying pressure. Expect retracement to test support but the LT outlook is more bullish.

CNYUSD

The Dollar Index, which should behave inversely to the Yuan (CNYUSD) above, is headed for a test of primary support at 96. Breach would be a strong bear signal.

Dollar Index

A weakening Dollar is a bull signal for Gold but it is driving up Treasury yields — raising the opportunity cost of holding precious metals — which is likely to offset rising demand.

10-Year Treasury yields are testing resistance at 2.0%. Breakout would offer a target of 2.50%.

10-Year Treasury Yields

Australia

Australia’s All Ordinaries Gold Index is testing the upper border of its downward trend channel. Declining Trend Index peaks have leveled off, suggesting that selling pressure is easing. Expect another test of support at 6000; respect would signal that a base is forming. Breakout from the trend channel would strengthen the signal.

All Ordinaries Gold Index

Patience

Gold is in a long-term up-trend and the current correction may offer an attractive entry point. But we first need a clear breakout from the trend channel to confirm that the up-trend is intact.

Gold remains bearish

10-Year Treasury yields are headed for another test of 2.0%. Rising Trend Index peaks indicate buying pressure. Breakout would offer a target of 2.50% and further weaken demand for Gold (higher yields increase the opportunity cost of holding precious metals).

10-Year Treasury Yields

Gold continues to test support at $1450, while lower Trend Index peaks warn of selling pressure. Breach of support would offer a target of $1350/ounce.

Gold (USD/ounce)

Silver made a false break through support at $16.80/ounce but the overall pattern, with declining Trend Index peaks, remains bearish.

Silver (USD/ounce)

Australia

Australia’s All Ordinaries Gold Index continues in a downward trend channel. Declining Trend Index peaks warn of continued selling pressure but seem to be leveling off. Respect of support at 6000, accompanied by higher Trend Index troughs, would suggest that a base is forming. Breakout from the trend channel would strengthen the signal.

All Ordinaries Gold Index

Patience

Gold is in a long-term up-trend and the current correction may offer an attractive entry point. But we first need a breakout from the trend channel to confirm that the up-trend is intact.

Trade deal bearish for Gold

Donald Trump is talking up the prospects of a trade deal, while China remains non-commital, but experience has taught us to judge the two parties more by their actions than the rhetoric.

The Chinese Yuan is strengthening against the US Dollar, testing resistance at 14.35 US cents. A strengthening Yuan means lower USD reserves, driving US Treasury yields higher.

Chinese Yuan CNY/USD

10-Year Treasury yields are likely to again test 2.0%, weakening demand for Gold (higher yields increase the opportunity cost of holding precious metals).

10-Year Treasury Yields

The one counter to this scenario is if the Fed takes up the slack — left by low PBOC purchases — through its repo activity which is expected to reach $500 billion by the end of the year. The Fed is not buying Treasuries but instead may finance purchases by primary dealers and hedge funds at very low rates.

Gold continues to test support at $1450, while lower Trend Index peaks warn of selling pressure. Breach of support would offer a target of $1350/ounce.

Gold (USD/ounce)

Silver made a false break through support at $16.80/ounce but declining Trend Index peaks similarly warn of continued selling pressure.

Silver (USD/ounce)

Australia

Australia’s All Ordinaries Gold Index broke support at 6500, signaling continuation of the downward trend channel. Declining Trend Index peaks again warn of continued selling pressure

All Ordinaries Gold Index

Patience

Gold is in a long-term up-trend and the current correction may offer an attractive entry point. But we first need a breakout from the trend channel to confirm that the up-trend is intact.

Silver bearish for Gold

Silver broke support at $16.80/ounce, warning of another decline. Declining Trend Index peaks indicate selling pressure.

Silver (USD/ounce)

Gold has yet to break support at $1450 but is likely to follow Silver if Treasury yields rise.

Gold (USD/ounce)

Higher Treasury yields weaken demand for Gold; it increases the opportunity cost of holding precious metals with no yield. Rising Trend Index troughs warn of upward pressure on yields. Expect another test of resistance at 2.0%.

10-Year Treasury Yields

A weakening Yuan (in USD) signals higher USD reserves held by the PBOC — and increased Treasury holdings (driving yields lower). Expect another test of primary support at 14 US cents.

Chinese Yuan CNY/USD

China opted for a largely symbolic response to President Trump’s signing of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. Increased sanctions against foreign NGOs are lame, according to Trivium China:

Foreign NGOs, especially those dedicated to democracy and human rights, have virtually no latitude to operate in China as it is. Additional “sanctions” are basically meaningless.

The weak response elicited a further push from Trump:

“In some ways, I like the idea of waiting until after the election for the China deal, but they want to make a deal now and we will see whether or not the deal is going to be right,” Trump told reporters in London. [CNBC]

The US is set to impose further tariffs if the December 15 deadline is not met. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross suggested that waiting until after the 2020 election to reach a trade deal with China would take away some of Beijing’s leverage, adding that “no high-level discussions are scheduled before the Dec. 15 deadline.”

We can’t see the US caving in to Beijing’s demands to roll back existing tariffs, nor the CCP kow-towing to Trump. Expect further delays.

Australia

Australia’s All Ordinaries Gold Index is testing support at 6500. Breach would signal continuation of the downward trend channel. Breakout from the trend channel is unlikely but would warn that a bottom is forming.

All Ordinaries Gold Index

Patience

Gold remains in a long-term up-trend. The current correction may offer an attractive entry point but we need confirmation that the up-trend is intact.