Gold becomes biggest winner of 2016
Tehran-Iran (Feb 29) Gold’s comeback is dominating 2016. The precious metal is the year’s best-performing major asset. Its 15 percent gain is topping gauges of high-yield and investment grade bonds, Treasuries, all currencies and major stock indexes in developing and emerging countries.
Turmoil across global equity and currency markets has sparked demand for a haven. Speculators raised their net-long position in gold to the highest in a year. SPDR Gold Shares, the world’s largest bullion exchange-traded fund, attracted $4.5 billion of new money in 2016, the most among all US-listed ETFs, according to Bloomberg. It’s a turnaround from just a few months ago, when investors were selling the metal, sending prices in December to a five-year low. “Gold has been the biggest story of this year,” said Dan Denbow, a portfolio manager at the USAA Precious Metals & Minerals Fund in San Antonio, which oversees $600 million. “Last summer, people were calling it a barbaric relic, and nobody could care less about gold. Now, it’s slowly generating more and more buying.” February gains Futures advanced 9.3 percent since the end of January to $1,220.40 an ounce, poised for the biggest February gain since 1979. This year, US treasuries rose 2.9 percent, while the MSCI All-Country World Index of shares fell 6.5 percent. The yen, 2016’s best-performing major currency, rose 5.5 percent against the dollar. The net-long position in gold futures and options jumped 32 percent to 123,566 contracts in the week ended Feb. 23, according to US Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released three days later. Long wagers climbed for an eighth straight week, the longest streak since 2012. Deteriorating global economies have increased concerns that the slowdown will be a drag on US growth, raising gold’s appeal as a safety asset. At the same time, there is increasing doubt that the Federal Reserve will move as quickly as it planned to raise interest rates because the expansion may weaken. That increases the allure of bullion as a store of value. Global holdings in gold ETFs surged 15 percent in 2016 to 1,678.7 metric tons. That’s the highest in a year, and the assets are on pace for the biggest quarterly increase since 2010. Analysts divided The changing economic picture has pressured some analysts to rethink their approach to gold. Georgette Boele, a strategist at ABN AMRO Group NV, had been a bear and is now reversing her negative outlook. Boele boosted her year-end forecast to $1,300, from $900. The metal dropped 10 percent in 2015 to $1,060.20. A gain this year would be the first annual increase since 2012. Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. economist Barnabas Gan, the most accurate precious-metals forecaster, last week called bullion a 'superhero' because of its performance this year, and said prices could reach $1,400. Still, that would happen only if risk aversion intensifies, he said. “I dubbed gold as a superhero only because it was the biggest winner since the start of the year amongst other asset classes,” Gan said, adding that his base-case forecast is for prices to drop. They could retreat to $1,000 to $1,150 by the end of the year if Fed officials follow through with interest-rate increases, he said.