The price of gold hit a record high this past week. . .in euro terms (at about 1,380 euros). The record came after a number of actions by central banks around the world, trying to stimulate their respective economies. The actions, usually centered around money printing, once again had investors looking for refuge in gold.
Since the beginning of September, investors have bought about 75 tons of gold through exchange traded funds. Reuters says that gold ETFs, such as the largest gold ETF—the SPDR Gold Shares (NYSE: GLD), are on track for their biggest quarterly inflows in over a year, of 3.285 million ounces. Finally, according to UBS, investors have also raised their bullish bets on gold futures to the highest level in more than a year.
All the world's major central banks took action recently including the Bank of Japan which launched a fresh round of monetary stimulus. The main action though was centered in Europe and the United States. The European Central Bank has promised to buy an unlimited quantity of eurobonds going forward. And the Federal Reserve announced its third round of monetary stimulus, QE3, that promises to buy $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities monthly on top of its ongoing Operation Twist program of buying long-dated Treasuries.
Speaking about the monetary easing, Barclays precious metals analyst Suki Cooper put it this way to the Financial Times, "Gold finally found the catalyst it had been waiting for all year after the Fed announced open-ended quantitative easing."
Another reason for gold's rise in euro terms, it must be noted, is the continuing fiscal turmoil in Europe itself, particularly in Spain. Spain's largest autonomous region, Catalonia, manages an economy as big as Portugal's. The problem is that it has debts of 42 billion euros which it is struggling to service. Catalonia has requested a 5 billion euro temporary bailout from Spain's central government, adding to its debt burden. In a real show of defiance, Catalonia is also refusing to implement austerity measures. Add to that, bank stress tests in Spain showed that the country's 14 largest lenders will need 60 billion euros in new capital.
No surprise then that physical demand for gold bars and coins in Europe rose 15% in the second quarter, according to the World Gold Council!
Another positive fundamental reason in the corner of gold bulls is the recent currency appreciation in the Indian rupee. India is traditionally the world's largest consumer of gold. Sales have been slow there this year due to the government trying to slow down gold sales there through rises in a gold import tax. However, the recent rise in the rupee has made gold purchases more palatable and gold sales to India have hit their highest level in two months.
So for now, many of the fundamentals look to favor a move higher for gold, although there is technical resistance at its 2012 high of $1,791/oz.
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