(Kitco News) - Gold prices will likely take their cue from action in the U.S. dollar and any news headlines next week as external influences continue to drive gold's direction.
The most-active December gold contract on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange settled at $1,685.70 an ounce, down 2.28% on the week. December silver settled at $31.014 an ounce, down 4.33% on the week.
In the Kitco News Gold Survey , out of 32 participants, 18 responded this week. Of those 18 participants, 10 see prices up, while five see prices down, and three see prices sideways or unchanged. Market participants include bullion dealers, investment banks, futures traders and technical chart analysts.
Several of those participants in the survey said the longer-term fundamentals of gold remain in good standing and those traders who have a longer-term investment horizon are able to buy the metal at lower levels. Also, several said after recent losses, gold may be considered "oversold" and due for a rebound.
George Gero, vice-president, global futures, and precious metals strategist, RBC Capital Markets, said gold won't be a leader, rather a follower, with the action of the dollar, interest rates and news headlines the biggest influence.
A stronger dollar has been a bugaboo for the gold bulls, but there is some debate on how much strength it has left. Some analysts have said in the short-term it appears that the dollar has risen too far, too fast and is due some sort of correction and that will take pressure off of gold. However, others said that as long as the problems in Europe remain, then the dollar will remain the safe haven of choice.
Gold has not been the recipient of safe haven flows during the whole European sovereign debt crisis, which has surprised many. Some market watchers have suggested that part of the reason why is that investors are seeking the kind of liquidity only the U.S. dollar can provide. BNP Paribas said the drying up of liquidity conditions is the main catalyst behind the U.S. dollar strength.
They said the lack of liquidity is seen in short-term money markets as the 3-month and one-year euro basis swaps continue to widen. "Spreading illiquidity has impacted even otherwise stellar trades such as long gold which are under pressure despite fundamentals suggesting it should trade higher," they said.
Gero agreed that liquidity is an issue why gold isn't going higher in the current environment, but he suggested that there's another central issue: price. "Let's face it, there's sticker shock. The price of gold is under discussion on the jewelry side. With the holidays coming up, most manufacturers have already taken a stand. They're looking at possible alternatives like silver, like platinum - the price of gold has put pressure on the jewelry trade. Even in India, there's some resistance. Plus there's less discretionary income - and jewelry is the first (purchase) to go," he said.
Barclays Capital also noted that physical buying is drying up, except for on dips. "While gold investment demand has firmed up in recent weeks, physical demand from Asia has been weaker than expected amid the seasonally strong period for consumption, with healthy interest only responding to price dips," they said.
In the every short-tem environment, Robin Bhar, precious metals analyst at Credit Agricole-CIB, the attitude of the investor is "return of capital, rather than return on capital" which was similar to attitudes in 2008-09. That's also why gold has been getting the short shrift.
Gero added that perhaps people missing the point about the benefits of a weaker euro for Europe. "I think people are misreading the euro weakness as the euro is going out of business. They're weakening it politically because they're not able to do it financially. They want to export to the U.S. which is still the last haven," he said.
Despite the recent weakness, several market watchers who remain bullish on gold pointed to further interest by central banks to buy the metal, which is a strong underlying support. The World Gold Council and the International Monetary Fund said this week that central bank gold purchases rose to 148.6 metric tons in the third quarter.
Looking ahead to next week, Gero said Wednesday is first notice day for many of the U.S. metal futures and that could have an influence on trade. Also, the calendar flips to December and many fund managers will begin to square books as they have to issue quarter-end and year-end profit/loss statements to clients. Any of those activities could have an influence on all the metals markets.
A few technical analysts are keeping their eyes out for the $1,650 area for gold. Bhar said that region could be tested if there is more selling in other markets and a need to raise cash continues. "Technically, gold has remained below the 100-day moving average for four consecutive days and still looks vulnerable to more chart-based selling," he said.
Yet technical analysts at Barclays Capital like gold at lower levels. "We look for a move higher in gold and would buy dips against the $1,600 area. Above $1,736 confirms upside scope toward $1,803/$1,840," they said.
By Debbie Carlson of Kitco News email@example.com
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