While much attention has been paid to the rally in stocks since the presidential election, another market rally has gone largely unnoticed, namely the rally in gold.
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Prices of gold futures and ETFs tracking buillion prices have gained about 11% since mid-December (they initially fell after the election), and an ETF tracking an index of gold mining stocks has soared 28%. None of these investments climbed to record highs, as major stock indexes did, but they all hit their highest prices in more than three months. Comex gold futures closed Friday at $1,258 an ounce, up from $1,130 in mid-December.
Underlying the rally, according to several analysts, are geopolitical concerns focusing largely on Europe, specifically on upcoming elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands, and possibly in Italy and Greece. The fear is that victories by right-wing candidates could lead to more exits from the European Union, as the U.K. has decided, which could destablize the EU.
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Concerns about a rising U.S. budget deficit due to White House plans to expand defense spending, possibly add other stimulus programs and cut taxes are also supportive for gold, which is seen as a safe haven investment.
David Kotok, co-founder and chief investment officer of Cumberland Advisors, notes in a recent commentary that “there are various explanations given” for why the prices of gold and of gold mining stocks have been rising, including also “changing monetary dynamics in the world”; the pending introduction of a new currency in India, which would allow Indians to resume purchasing gold; and an alteration in Sharia (Islamic law) that allows investments in gold.
Kotok is overweight GDX, a gold mining ETF that that, as noted above, has outperformed other gold-linked ETFs but he admits there is “no way to know how high the gold price goes” from here, and how Trump’s policies, many unknown, will impact the yellow metal. “But a little gold over here is probably a counterbalance to uncertainty, which is high and rising,” said Kotok.
George Gero, a managing director at RBC Wealth Management, said gold prices could continue to gain, but only moderately, ending the year near $1,300 an ounce.
“Gold is not a compelling buy right now,” said Walter “Bucky” Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth. On the technical charts it’s “moved from an extremely oversold position in December to almost overbought.” But Hellwig noted that if the price of gold does rise and break through $1,264 an ounce, that ceiling will then become a key support level for the metal.