As gold completes its golden cross today and remains by far the best-performing asset of 2014, we thought it intriguing that Goldman Sachs' commodity group would issue a strong "sell your gold" recommendation... of course, when Goldman's clients are selling, who is buying? As a reminder, the last time the bank was extremely bearish on gold (about a year ago), our skepticism at the time was well warranted as Goldman was in fact the largest buyer of gold in the following quarter.
Via Goldman Sachs' Damien Courvalin,
Cold, Crimea & China: Transient supports to gold prices
The 2014 gold rally brought prices to their highest level since September before a more hawkish-than-expected March FOMC pushed prices sharply lower. Three distinct and in our view transient catalysts have driven this rally: (1) a sharp slowdown in US economic activity which we believe was weather driven, (2) high Chinese credit concerns, although ultimately bearish for gold demand through lower financing deals if realized, and (3) escalating tensions over Ukraine. While further escalation in tensions could support gold prices, we expect a sequential acceleration in both US and Chinese activity, and hence for gold prices to decline, although it may take several weeks to lift uncertainty around this acceleration. Importantly, it would require a significant sustained slowdown in US growth for us to revisit our expectation for lower US gold prices over the next two years.
Re-acceleration in US activity will push gold prices lower
While we see clear catalysts for the recent rally in gold prices, this move has been large relative to US real rates which are a key input into our forecasts and benchmarking of gold prices. As a result, we see potential for a meaningful decline in gold prices towards the level implied by 10-year TIPS yields, which our rates strategists expect to rise further this year, and reiterate our year-end $1,050/toz gold price forecast. More broadly, we believe that with tapering of the Fed’s QE, US economic releases are back the decline in gold prices will likely be data dependent, in contrast to our 2013 bearish gold view which was driven by the disconnect between stretched long gold speculative positioning and stabilizing US growth.
Indian and Chinese gold demand unlikely to surprise to the upside
Weak Indian gold imports and surging Chinese imports were the most important shifts in EM gold demand last year, although these trade statistics likely overestimated shifts in local gold demand given reported gold smuggling into India and the use of gold in Chinese financing deals. While we see potential for these shifts to reverse in 2014, we estimate the net impact will not be meaningful to our gold outlook as: (1) India’s potential easing of gold import tariffs will likely remain modest given how much lower gold imports have contributed to its improved trade balance, (2) we expect a gradual unwind of gold backed financing deals.
Full note below: