Gold Investors Weekly Review – April 25th

In his weekly market review, Frank Holmes of the USFunds.com nicely summarizes for gold investors this week’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the gold market. Gold closed the week at $1,302.54, up $7.01  per ounce (0.54%). The NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index rose 3.26% on the week. This was the gold investors review of past week.

Gold Market Strengths

Signs that inflation has likely bottomed are now showing up everywhere and should stoke inflation expectations in support of gold. The Federal Reserve’s M2 money supply growth is running at an annualized rate of 8 percent, a multiple of gold’s long-term supply growth of around 2 percent, annually. Similarly, U.S. bank loans have accelerated to levels not seen since 2007, with commercial and industrial loans rising at a 16.1 percent rate over the past 18 weeks. Similarly, average hourly earnings for American workers now run consistently above a 2 percent annual growth rate.

US-Money-Supply-M2-In-2014

US Money Supply M2 in 2014

Gold rebounded towards the end of the week to $1,302.54 per ounce, as conflicts in Ukraine continue and traders bet that prices will rise amid quickening inflation. Gold sales in Japan more than doubled in the first quarter, ahead of the consumption tax hike that is expected to fuel inflation. Platinum also posted strong performance this week as companies and labor unions in South Africa failed to reach a deal that would end a 13-week-long strike.

Gold Market Weaknesses

Turkey and Russia both cut gold holdings in March after increases during the previous month, according to data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Bullion holdings by central banks are closely watched since the group became net buyers in 2010, after two decades as net sellers. This selling highlights gold’s role as a backstop in times of crisis, with Russia likely swapping gold for foreign currency amid the threat of western sanctions.

Gold ETF investors have been sellers in April, as monthly outflows reach 516,000 ounces. Outflow days have outnumbered inflow days by a 2:1 ratio. According to UBS, this trading action contrasts with buying during February and March of 261,000 and 463,000 ounces, respectively. On the positive side, April selling is just shy of the inflows recorded in the prior two months, leading UBS analysts to believe the bulk of the selling is now done.

Gold Market Opportunities

RBC analysts upgraded Agnico Eagle to “outperform” following the pullback from the combined bid offer for Osisko. The analysts argue that in addition to the overall transaction being accretive to Agnico, the company deserves a premium over its peers. They note its strong 13-percent annual growth profile, its highly diversified and high-quality asset portfolio, along with its ability to generate substantial free cash flow at current prices. On a related note, Solitario Exploration and Royalty engaged SRK to complete a Technical Resource Report on its Bongara Zinc project in Peru. The Bongara deposit is undergoing an advanced technical evaluation by Votorantim, the Brazilian conglomerate, which will carry Solitario to production upon a positive Feasibility Study.

A study of gold forward rates and the investment cycle, signals that gold is at a major multi-year low, according to Ian Williams, CEO of Charteris Treasury Portfolio Managers. Williams asserts that inventories are falling rapidly at a time when replacement cost is $1,500 an ounce. In such an environment, it is clearly not possible for gold to trade below replacement cost for very long. Not surprisingly, the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority is considering adding bullion to its list of eligible investments for investors saving up for retirement. This move could give a boost to institutional and retail gold demand.

Gold Market Threats

Gold fell to a 10-week low before recovering mid-week, as markets were concerned that a weaker Chinese yuan may force supply out of China. The weakness in the Asian currency mounted concerns that investors would be forced to unwind the 1,000 tonnes of the metal allegedly pledged as collateral for loans. However, the assumption that 1,000 tonnes are at risk of liquidation is likely overstated. A large portion likely ended up in the vaults of the central bank, with many more tonnes locked in commercial bank’s balance sheets under consumer gold-accumulation plans.

China added Beijing as its third mainland gold import point, in a move that would help keep purchases secret if China (the world’s top buyer) opted to boost its official reserves. China does not release its gold trade data, leaving Hong Kong’s net export data to Shenzhen as the only reliable indicator of Chinese gold imports. The new import channel will aid China in increasing its gold purchases in a discreet manner, but may also relieve some of the pressure seen in Hong Kong as it funneled gold to satisfy China’s strong consumer demand.

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