Fast forward to the present and hardcore gold bugs remain transfixed on the idea that precious metals must rise. The gold bull market has ended, at least for now and those still holding the bag are looking at large losses from the all time highs set back in 2011.
These same gold bugs will cite a litany of reasons why gold should be moving higher from the unprecedented printing of money by global central banks to the deficit spending and eventual fiscal day of reckoning facing most Western nations. I do not disagree with the gold bugs that in the long run gold prices will rally above the all time highs, but in the short to intermediate term there are several forces that have the potential to drive gold prices lower.
Gold prices cannot rise continually, regardless of the macroeconomic backdrop. Nothing, not even Apple Computer (AAPL) or Priceline.com (PCLN) will rise forever. Eventually prices will come back down to earth and revert to the long-term mean. It has happened in gold and it will happen to Apple Computer and Priceline.com at some point in the future; it is simply a matter of time.
Before I discuss my reasoning as to why gold and silver are likely to pullback in the intermediate term, I need to remind readers that I remain long-term bullish of precious metals. While the long-term remains bright, the short-term is especially murky and dark.
The first primary concern for gold bugs should be the price behavior of the U.S. Dollar Index recently. The dollar has rallied sharply higher after carving out a higher low on the daily chart (bullish). The dollar is on the verge of breaking out above a major descending trendline on the daily chart. Once that breakout to the upside has occurred, it will become likely that the recent highs will be tested and possibly taken out. The daily chart of the Dollar Index is shown below.
The U.S. dollar's price action shown above is not indicative of bearish expectations. In fact, I would argue that the dollar is, and likely will remain in a bull market in the short and intermediate time frames. However, it is important to recognize that strong periods of volatility will persist as Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve will continue to try to break the dollar's rally as it tries to grind higher.
The Federal Reserve hates deflation, and a stronger dollar will push risk assets like equities lower and right now that is not part of the Federal Reserve's election playbook. QE III will likely be announced at some point in the future as an attempt to break the dollar's rally and to put a floor underneath stock prices.
The Federal Reserve has used QE I and QE II to help prevent economic disaster. Recently "Operation Twist" has also been used to increase liquidity while keeping the bullish game going. Low interest rates and additional easing adjustments have staved off disaster before and they will likely be utilized again by the Federal Reserve.
Ultimately the free market and cycles will exert their will and the Federal Reserve will be left helpless. The day where monetary easing has no major impact is coming, but we are not quite there just yet.
In addition to the strength in the Dollar Index, the gold miners have been under major selling pressure. In fact, the gold miners have recently broken down out of a major consolidation zone that will likely lead to lower prices in the near term.
Unless gold miners can regain the breakdown level on a major reversal this coming week, the most we can hope for is a backtest of the support trendline sometime in the near future once the miner's become significantly oversold. The weakness in the miners is just another example as to why lower prices for gold appear to be likely in the short to intermediate time frames. The weekly chart of the gold miners ETF is shown below.
The gold miners are likely to lead equity markets lower in the near term, but lower prices for gold miners is certainly not positive for gold either. Obviously there are several economic factors which could still see gold prices working higher such as a collapse of the Eurozone, however at this moment the likelihood of that outcome in the short to intermediate term is not likely.
The European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve are not going to give up that easily. The process of admitting defeat will take time and global central banks will print money until they feel they have papered over the issue. It is the culmination of either QE III or other monetary easing around the world that will eventually move gold back above the all time highs. Unfortunately the short term price action of gold will most certainly remain under selling pressure barring any major unexpected announcements. The daily chart of gold futures is shown below.
As shown above, I believe that short-term targets to the downside are likely somewhere in the $1,475–1,525/oz price range. I think gold will find a major bottom near these levels and a strong bounce will play out. For long-term buyers, I would take advantage of the forthcoming pullback. However, I would be mindful that further selling is quite possible before gold finds a major bottom.
As I said before, the longer term is bright for gold. However, the short to intermediate term will likely see more selling pressure. Until either the dollar tops or some form of major quantitative easing is announced, I would anticipate lower prices in the yellow metal.
In the near term gold does not look attractive, but the longer term the catalysts for a major move above recent highs are present. The real question has become when and where will the dollar top? When the dollar tops and gold finds a major bottom, the potential for a monster move higher will become likely.
Until then, risk remains high.