Gold Hits Record High December 2023

This week, gold touched an all-time high of $2,135.39 as the metal continued on a rally which started in early October of this year and has seen the metal gain 16%. Gold last reached a record high back in August 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic sparked a rush into gold as a safe haven. As the world becomes more volatile, the old adage of gold being a safe haven tends to make it increase in value.

This of course can be seen in the continuing war between Russia and Ukraine, as well as the continued conflict between Israel and Palestine, providing a geopolitical risk as a reason to invest in gold. Furthermore, the dovish stance being taken on interest rates by the Federal Reserve in the United States has given the gold price some staggering momentum.

When the Federal Reserve first started hiking interest rates, assets such as bonds became more lucrative for investors due to the higher yields on offer. Consequently, the demand for gold lessened due to the fact the metal carries no interest rate thus diminishing investor appeal. Conversely, when interest rates come down the appetite for gold increases, and the prospect of easing money supply and reducing interest rates appears to have been confirmed by recent comments coming out of the Federal Reserve.

Analysts are advising that gold’s surge towards a record high was aided by Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Weller, who indicated that interest rates will not have to be increased to get inflation to return to 2%. Further dovish remarks followed from the Chairman himself, Jerome Powell, who said the central bank’s policy rate was now well into restrictive territory, which suggests that rate increases have now concluded.

This potential end to rate hikes will prove beneficial to gold, as the metal tends to struggle under higher rates whilst benefiting from lower rates. Therefore, as mentioned above, gold is not only rising from geopolitical risks, (also 41% of the world’s population will go to the polls next year,) but from traders aggressively pricing in rate cuts from March 2024. Indeed, experts advise that the swaps markets are now predicting a better than even chance of a rate reduction in March 2024, and are pricing in a cut in May of the same year. The recent decline in the value of the dollar has also spurred investor interest in gold as the metal is usually valued against the greenback. 

Experts suggest that gold may well go higher as there are many investors still on the side-lines, which increases the possibilities  of further spikes/rallies in gold. Previous gold bull markets have been driven by investors using exchange-traded funds or ETFs*, but analysts advise that investors in the mechanism have seen sellers for much of 2023 down 20% from the high of 2020. 

*Gold ETFs – This is a very popular way for investors to buy gold as they do not have to go through the process of owning the metal. Gold ETFs enjoy good liquidity and investors can buy and sell shares of the ETF on the stock exchange. When a purchase of shares is made the fund manager must buy the equivalent amount in physical gold. This not only will increase the price of gold but can act as a signal to the broader market that demand is increasing thereby impacting investor sentiment.

Furthermore, experts advise that the current price of gold (down at the time of writing form the high of USD2,135.39 to USD2019.17) may well be underpinned by the continuing support of purchases by governments and central banks. For example, Poland has bought circa 300 tonnes of gold in the past few years falling in line with the Eurozone average of gold to GDP ratio. This is a covert requirement* and as such analysts suggest Poland will buy an additional 130 tonnes of gold. 

*Covert Requirement – is referred to because some central banks within the Eurozone (e.g., Belgium) refuse to be transparent with regard to the gold reserve alignment on the grounds of professional secrecy. 

Market sentiment appears to favour a bull run in 2024 as experts predict that the Federal Reserve will cut US Dollar interest rates four times in 2024. However, if inflation figures do not match market sentiment and rates are put on hold or even hiked once more, traders and investors will not hesitate to cut their positions and gold will fall back to weaker levels.