This week gold prices broke out to new all-time highs above $1,000 and ounce. Short-term momentum is picking up for all kinds of gold-related assets as well.
Is the trend sustainable? Yes, at least for now. Given the economic situation, more and more investors appear to be deciding to allocate a portfolio slice to precious metals. The gold market is actually small relative to most financial asset classes. It doesn’t take much activity to create a lot of movement.
Another factor is that investors can now buy gold much more conveniently than in the past, thanks to ETFs like SPDR Gold Trust (GLD), iShares COMEX Gold Trust (IAU), and ETFS Physical Swiss Gold Shares (SGOL). A decade ago you would need to have a futures trading account to do this (unless you wanted to take possession of physical gold), and online trading was still a novelty. Now all it takes is a few mouse clicks.
Unlike most commodities, gold is also a monetary asset. Its movement is closely tied to opinions about the value of paper currencies. The gold rally comes at the same time as U.S. dollar weakness. Some would argue that gold is simply the other side of a dollar trade. If one expects inflation and dollar depreciation, gold is a good place to hide.
The risk of gold is that the same factors that allow it to move up so quickly mean it can move down just as fast. The area around $1,000 acted as resistance for a long time. Having been surpassed, this price zone should now serve as support. If gold drops back below $1,000, much more downside is probably ahead. If you’re on-board with gold, enjoy the ride – and keep your seat belt fastened.