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World Gold Council First Quarter Report a Bunch of Bull

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The World Gold Council’s first quarter report is a bunch of bull. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say it projects a very bullish outlook for gold.

The report confirms what we already knew – gold got off to a glittering start in 2016 – and it predicts the rally will likely continue and evolve into a genuine, long-term bull market.

Gold rose nearly 17% in US dollar terms through the first three months of 2016, and the return on the yellow metal significantly outperformed most other major stock, bond, and commodity indices. Analysts at the World Gold Council say they don’t think it was just a flash in the pan. They say market dynamics indicate the rally will continue:

We believe that market uncertainty and expansionary monetary policies will continue to support both investment and central bank demand. This, combined with an analysis of previous bull-bear cycles, suggests we may be entering a new bull market for gold.”

Gold was not only a big winner in dollar terms. The precious metal saw significant gains in all of the major trading currencies, rising by 11%, 20%, and 9% in euro, British pound and Japanese yen terms respectively. It was up 16% in Chinese renminbi and Indian rupee terms, and 12% in Turkish lira.

The World Gold Council identified five key factors supporting the rally in gold:

  1. Ongoing concerns about economic growth and financial stability in emerging markets
  2. A hiatus in the rise of the US dollar
  3. The implementation of negative interest rate policies by leading global central banks
  4. The return of pent up investment demand for gold
  5. Price momentum (i.e. investors following gold’s upward trend)

Investment demand was particularly robust in the first quarter of 2016. The US Mint reported combined sales of American Gold Eagles and American Gold Buffalos increased 51% year-on-year. Meanwhile, gold-backed ETFs had the second strongest quarter on record, with demand from the US, Europe, and China and other regions rising by a combined 363 tons:

Anecdotal evidence suggests that, in contrast to increases in investment flows in the recent past, investor interest is broader based, coming from both retail and institutional investors.”

Reports of surging investor demand for gold in China support the Council’s observations. Analysts say economic uncertainty along with quickly rising real estate prices are pushing Chinese investors toward gold, and retailers in the country report brisk gold bar sales.

The World Gold Council report zeros in on central bank policy as a major factor driving gold demand, particularly negative interest rates. This dovetails with a recent CNBC story reporting that central bank action appears to be rejuvenating gold in Europe, as the entrenchment of negative interest rates makes depositing cash in banks less and less rewarding.

Expansionary monetary policy isn’t going to end any time soon, and economic factors continue to point toward recession in the US. This supports the World Gold Council’s view that we seem to be entering into a sustainable bull market for gold.

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