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Precious Metals & Energy - Weekly Review and Calendar Ahead

CommoditiesFeb 28, 2021 07:54AM ET
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© Reuters.

By Barani Krishnan

What’s the true value of gold?

It’s a head-scratcher, no doubt. And given that it’s going down for the wrong reasons at times, it’s also getting increasingly difficult to figure out.

Gold futures on New York’s Comex are precariously close to breaking below $1,700 an ounce, threatening to extend this year’s 9% plunge. 

Friday’s loss alone was 2.6%. It came on the back of bets that the U.S. economy might perform way beyond the Federal Reserve’s expectations for the second half - diminishing the need for so-called safe havens like gold. 

Be that as it may, this week’s seismic selloff across markets was also on the insinuation that price pressures were already soaring in the U.S., only that the Fed hasn’t noticed - or refuses to. Case in point: Commerce Department data for January showing a 10% growth in personal income (above forecast) and 2.4% rise in consumer spending (just below forecast). It was a perfect excuse for short-sellers looking to extend Thursday’s bloodbath, which had already handed Wall Street’s Nasdaq its worst day in four months. 

But there was one problem with the Commerce data though: the January spike in personal income and consumer spending were both skewed by the $600 checks sent out to most Americans in December by the Trump administration under its last Covid-19 relief program. That fact was conveniently left out in the Sell-First-Ask-Questions-Later narrative that has formed in gold since November. 

But even if inflation is running away in the United States and the Fed is asleep at the wheel - which I can assure you it’s not - shouldn’t that be a reason for investors to seek cover in gold? For decades, the yellow metal has been touted as the best store of value and protection against any loss in the dollar’s purchasing power. With the U.S. headed for more nerve-wracking budget deficits and higher debt-to-GDP ratio from the continuous fiscal battle against the Covid-19, if now isn’t the time to hedge in gold, then when?

But some, like Jeffrey Halley, the Sydney-based Asia-Pacific head for online brokerage OANDA, argue that the inflation the world is seeing is a cost/push inflation - not the economy destroying "sticky" inflation. 

“Price rises on this side of the economic vortex drop out of the CPI measures after one year and reflect economic activity expansion,” said Halley in a note issued Friday. “Absent is the more dire wage/price spiral inflation.”

By becoming “myopically fixated” on inflation of this type, investors were counting on an explosion in demand as vaccines reopened developed economies, said Halley. He adds: “The fact is, data has shown we have seen an increase in demand anyway up till now, despite the pandemic walls erected globally.”

But one can also argue that the investors who said no to gold lately were indeed myopic in a different way -- to some of the data that have been coming out.  

Take, for instance, the U.S. jobless claims reported on Thursday, showing a 13% drop in filings last week to their lowest in three months. There were two important back stories to that drop. In the first, snowstorms in central and southern United States, particularly Texas, knocked out power and disrupted regular activity - possibly filing of claims too. In the second, officials were investigating fraud filings in the state of Ohio. If the following week’s numbers are adjusted for these two events, non-filings from the storm could turn out to be higher than the fraud cases in just one state. But when you have a narrative in gold that tells you to sell first and think later, who cares?

And that’s the bottomline: fewer people really care about adding gold to their portfolios now than they were six months back, when futures on Comex had just hit all-time highs of nearly $2,090 an ounce. 

The amount of bullion held against SPDR Gold Shares (NYSE:GLD), the world’s largest exchange-traded fund, had dwindled by  63.5 tonnes year-to-date, data showed.

As Thursday, the fund’s gold holdings were down 2.3% from the previous week. This represents a withdrawal or sale of 26.53 tonnes of the metal. In the week to Feb. 24 alone, some $1.5 billion of physical gold flowed out of the fund.

Some of the heated exchange on forums discussing this year’s tumble in gold is whether the big investment banks that specialize in trading the metal - traditionally the largest movers of its price - were deliberately shorting even when economic data was supportive of gold. Case in point: When U.S. nonfarm payrolls showed a shocking 140,000 job-loss for December - the first slump since April - gold actually fell 3.5% over the course of two days as the Dollar Index sprung higher. With gold, these investment banks can easily short - suppress, manipulate, whatever you call it - as there are always central banks looking to build reserves of the precious metal at cheaper prices. Aside from selling down gold, the investment banks can concurrently bid up the dollar, profiting both ways. Unless they’re caught spoofing trades, which has happened before, there’s nothing to stop them from legitimately shorting gold.

So back to the question: What should be the real value of gold now?

It really depends whom you’re asking. If it’s a gold bug, the answer will be at least $2,000 an ounce over the next couple of months, and possibly $3,500 and beyond in the next couple of years. If it’s a gold bear, do not be surprised to hear even $600 an ounce (a level from 15 years ago) or some equally ludicrous number that defies all conventions of inflation.

But inflation and speculation aside, gold itself does not yield and that happens to be its main ill. As proven only too clearly since November, whenever the yield on the U.S. Treasury’s 10-year note spiked, investors fled from the yellow metal without a thought, and into any asset that simply paid better. Based on this, gold is worth only what an investor thinks it’s worth - or calculates what that worth will be over time by applying projected inflation, production costs and other economic effects. But equally important is the huge daily demand for gold bars, either to be held in central bank vaults as reserve or be turned into jewelry (I had a quite an amusing time this week reading the demented logic of a few commentators on Investing.com arguing that gold was just a “color” or its best non-investment use was as plating for microchips).

All said, the best price indicator for gold now are technical charts. And almost all signals point to the $1,700 support for gold being a tenuous one - meaning a break to $1,600 levels is very possible. But chart history also suggests that once gold hits a “hard floor” of between $1,691 and $1,642, it could snap back violently, possibly even to $1,800 levels and beyond.

Okay, enough with gold. Let's turn our attention now to crude markets, which are in a precarious position of their own after posting a fourth straight month of gains in February.

The enlarged OPEC+ alliance of oil producers, banding the Saudi-led Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries with allies steered by Russia, is to meet next Thursday to set output quotas for April. The previous meeting had ended in a face-saving compromise which allowed Russia and Kazakhstan to raise their output, while Saudi Arabia offset the net increase in world supply with a temporary 1 million barrel a day cut of its own.

The Saudis pledged to make these extra curbs only in February and March, but some see signs that could change as the negotiations get underway.

Bloomberg reported earlier this week that Riyadh was publicly urging fellow members to be “extremely cautious,” despite crude prices rebounding to a one-year high. In private, the kingdom has signaled it would prefer that the group broadly holds output steady, delegates said. Moscow, on the other hand, is indicating that it still wants to proceed with a supply increase.

But some analysts are optimistic that crude prices will weather the OPEC meeting just fine.

“To stop and potentially reverse slightly the meteoric rise in oil, I'd expect a multi-million barrel increase may be needed to push oil back to $50,” said GasBuddy analyst Patrick de Haan. “With recovering demand, feels like the market probably could use 2+ (million b/d) increase.

“Anything under 1 is too low and risks oil breakout,” he added.

Gold Price & Market Roundup

Gold for April delivery on New York’s Comex did a final trade of $1,732.45 an ounce on Friday, after officially settling the session at $1,728.80, down $46.60, or 2.6%. It earlier tumbled to $1,715.05, its lowest since June 8 bottom of $1,700.10.

For the week, the benchmark gold futures contract was down 2.7%, following through with the previous week’s slide of 2.5%. With Friday being the last trading session for February, it wrapped the month down 6.6%, its worst since a 7.2% decline in November 2016 . 

Spot gold, which reflects real-time trades in bullion, settled at $1,734.40, down $36.44, or 2.1%. Hedge funds and other money managers sometimes rely more on the spot price than futures for determining direction in gold.

Oil Price & Market Roundup 

New York-traded West Texas Intermediate, the benchmark for U.S. crude, did a final trade of $61.62 on Friday. It officially settled the session at $61.50, down $2.03, or 3.2%, on the day. 

For the week, WTI was up almost 4%. For the month, it was up nearly 18%, extending advances of around 8% in January, 7% in December and 27% in November. At current prices, WTI is also trading at levels last seen in January 2020, before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic that decimated the market for months.

London-traded Brent, the global benchmark for oil, did a final trade of $64.43 per barrel on Friday. It officially settled the session at $64.42, down $1.69, or 2.6% on the day. For the week, it was up almost 5%. For the month, it was up 18%, extending gains of 8% in January, 9% in December and 27% in November.  Brent also hit a 13-month high of $66.81 in February. 

Energy Calendar Ahead

Monday, March 1

Private Cushing stockpile estimates

Tuesday, March 2

American Petroleum Institute weekly report on oil stockpiles.

Wednesday, March 3

EIA weekly report on crude stockpiles

EIA weekly report on gasoline stockpiles

EIA weekly report on distillates inventories 

Thursday, March 4

EIA weekly report on {{ecl-386||natural gas storage}

Friday, March 5

Baker Hughes weekly survey on U.S. oil rigs

Disclaimer: Barani Krishnan uses a range of views outside his own to bring diversity to his analysis of any market. As an analyst for Investing.com he presents divergent views and market variables. He also has no positions in the commodities and securities that he writes about.

 

Precious Metals & Energy - Weekly Review and Calendar Ahead
 

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Comments (19)
SunilKumar Dixit
SunilKumarDixit Mar 01, 2021 8:05AM ET
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I want to sum it up in one sentence.Height of pessimism is the best time to buy.
Tuan Vi
Tuan Vi Feb 28, 2021 9:18PM ET
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We love to read such a good report. If you have some mention in technical analysis, that could be the best. Thanks
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Feb 28, 2021 9:18PM ET
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Tuan Vi, thanks much for the appreciation. I often do include technicals but unfortunately, this was already running a little long and so I decided to just sum that up generically, instead of going into detail. Thanks again for the kind words.
Tyrone Jackson
Tyrone Jackson Feb 28, 2021 6:53PM ET
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Just try to get your hands on real gold lol! Paper price is irrelevant. Physical gold is sold out at the Asian gold stores in LA. Silver is 10 over spot . Of course the Wall Street media will only look at the fake paper. Don’t be a fool and believe the media Go try to buy gold tomorrow Post it up here how much a oz is .
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Feb 28, 2021 6:53PM ET
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Tyrone, no one's disputing the value on the physical market. But the paper market is where the basic price is set. Understand that. Don't simply throw around words like "fool" or discredit the work done by all financial media. Have some courtesy. And learn to read more.
Tyrone Jackson
Tyrone Jackson Feb 28, 2021 6:53PM ET
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Not attacking you brother. Just stating facts . Go buy physical tomorrow and report the cost here as I stated. The comment was not at you personally. Inflation has hit the physical market and the bond yields did not have any affect on physical.. London and NY can set any price they want. And don’t be offended if someone has a opposing view. Go price a kilo tomorrow at your local dealer or 10 oz bar or one ounce . Now compare it to one year ago, 2 years ago 3 years ago . Inflation big time.
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Feb 28, 2021 6:53PM ET
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Tyrone Jackson  I'm not offended by opposing views. I get those all the time, as you can see even on this thread. You can also see how I respond to them. To me, courtesy is a two-way street. I respond in the same way that I am treated, or my readers are treated. That said, I see your point that a kilo of gold in the real world trades like in a different planet from Comex paper. But this article is all about the futures market and the people who access gold through that. They are trading gold futures on the same premise of the street inflation that you are talking about. Yet, they're experiencing something else, thanks to the Wall Street banksters (some call them that  ... hah!). We get your point. Thanks for the input. Bests.
Rami Hamad
Rami Hamad Feb 28, 2021 3:35PM ET
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Well explained
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Feb 28, 2021 3:35PM ET
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Thank you.
Hiep Nguyen Quoc
Hiep Nguyen Quoc Feb 28, 2021 1:24PM ET
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Actually, it is very difficult to clearly identify the inflation as cost-push or demand-pull. Unemployment is much below the natural level and this pandemic causes a supply shock. However if huge QE are released to strongly shift the demand curve to the right, the inflation will be more like a demand-pull.
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Feb 28, 2021 1:24PM ET
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HNQ, truly appreciate that perspective, mate!
Hiep Nguyen Quoc
Hiep Nguyen Quoc Feb 28, 2021 1:24PM ET
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Barani Krishnan   Thank you. It's complicated to analyze something but it's simple to buy gold. Just because it's cheap last week ^^
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Feb 28, 2021 1:24PM ET
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Hiep Nguyen Quoc  Ha ha ... You got it, right! Have a good week ahead :)
Alan West
Alan West Feb 28, 2021 1:01PM ET
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Gold’s headed to $1,200. Interest rates up = gold down.
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Feb 28, 2021 1:01PM ET
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RATES are still DOWN. Fed funds rate only priced in at 0.25 for JAN 2022; only YIELDS are up now. Some concern is understandable; not loose bowels like this.
BDO WL
BDO WL Feb 28, 2021 1:00PM ET
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At bit weird that the yields are having such an effect on gold. The economy is still a mess so yield increase is due to inflation, not a bettering economy. Plus realrates are still negative so buying bonds is still bad for money,no? Baffled why people can't see that and buy into gold or even bitcoin to protect themselves against inflation.  Or have i got this wrong?
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Feb 28, 2021 1:00PM ET
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No, you aren't wrong at all, BDO. You logical mind is working against a slick Wall Street machine that's bent on going the contra-popular way to maximize trades on the odds. That's all.
Alan Rice
Alan Rice Feb 28, 2021 12:40PM ET
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Earth is experiencing a man-made "energy glut" that may destroyThe Planet's Biosphere if not checked soon. Note: A ton of Gold can't get you hamburger on Mars. Only YOU can prevent planetary death.
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Feb 28, 2021 12:40PM ET
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You have been regurgitating this in almost every anti-gold, pro-oil comment of yours, Alan. Try and get a little more creative.
Bulent Ok
Bulent Ok Feb 28, 2021 11:49AM ET
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Semiconductor shortage... Gold used in alot of other sectors beyond chips and jewellery... The price of gold is at a place where the big boys want to squeeze more out of it by getting people like you to play mind games... Oo it might even fall to 600 dollar.. Sell out... I never ever understand why people even bother with you... Crypto down, bonds put, stocks correcting or crushing... Now news of Iran Myanmar surfacing.. War trumpets blowing again.... So it's golds time... And you are trying to get it for peanuts for your big bosses...
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Feb 28, 2021 11:49AM ET
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Bulent Ok  Who do you mean by "YOU" (I never ever understand why people even bother with you). And what do you mean by "are trying to get it for peanuts for your big bosses"? Are you suggesting that all the variables I cite around gold day in and out are of no use to readers who are here to figure out them for themselves what's going on? And are you implying that I'm in this for the trade, and worse, and am trying to help suppress the price for my bosses (who happen to be writers and editors just like me)? You better clarify.
Alan Rice
Alan Rice Feb 28, 2021 11:49AM ET
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huh ??
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Feb 28, 2021 11:49AM ET
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Alan Rice  Try and get more creative, as I told you in the comment above.
Abdelraziq Abuaisha
Abdelraziq Abuaisha Feb 28, 2021 11:29AM ET
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This stimulus bill is going to fiscal policy implemented by government, the fed is cut out from intervening in markets now dear writer ,, oooh! Imagine how lovely will the market be when it goes free. It’s time for people to determine what is valued and what is not, I’m getting soooo excited :)
The Chad Bull
The Chad Bull Feb 28, 2021 10:09AM ET
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You cannot print your way to prosperity
Jeffrey Vose
Jeffrey Vose Feb 28, 2021 10:09AM ET
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You can temporarily... but not forever
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Feb 28, 2021 10:09AM ET
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True.
Peter BullMarket
Peter BullMarket Feb 28, 2021 9:42AM ET
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Gold is oversold... I believe it will bounce back a little on Monday, specially now that the House passed the 1.9T stimulus
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Feb 28, 2021 9:42AM ET
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There should be support at these levels. Peter. If the JPMs of the world step aside, of course.
Angela Boyd
Angela Boyd Feb 28, 2021 9:26AM ET
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Thank you for including example cases to support your commentary. Awesome report!
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Feb 28, 2021 9:26AM ET
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Thank you. Really appreciate having readers like you. It's what makes the hours I spend on this each week worthwhile!
The Chad Bull
The Chad Bull Feb 28, 2021 9:16AM ET
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Gold is heading to $5,000 an ounce by the end of 2022
Lawrenti Berija
Lawrenti Berija Feb 28, 2021 9:16AM ET
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heard that before
Peter BullMarket
Peter BullMarket Feb 28, 2021 9:16AM ET
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Gold bless you!
Miquel Mauri
Miquel Mauri Feb 28, 2021 9:16AM ET
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of course why not
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Feb 28, 2021 9:16AM ET
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Lawrenti Berija  Sigh again, brother.
Shah Reza
Shah Reza Feb 28, 2021 9:10AM ET
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Gold will touch the price of 1600 and maybe will go as the lowest 1470 as a price on March 2020.. Gold still worth for market cause all religion believe gold is the main point to be the richest amongst human
NLP NLP
NLP1 Feb 28, 2021 8:57AM ET
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A well written and insightful article. Summed up the market precisely. There is always a correction and usually, the longer it takes, the more vigorous the swingback. One can easily argue that the current chaos is exactly the reason to hedge with gold. Nice work Mr. Barani.
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Feb 28, 2021 8:57AM ET
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Thanks much for the appreciation, NLP. Logically, gold should have never left the $1900 territory, given the amount of Benjamin Franklins we're printing. Let's see if we get back there soon, and beyond. Thanks again.
Timothy Yisrael
Timothy Yisrael Feb 28, 2021 8:22AM ET
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I think a components that is not being considered is the rise of cryptocurrencies aka Bitcoin and the like. Gold and silver is and always has been REAL money and certainly should be in everyone's portfolio. Just a thought
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Feb 28, 2021 8:22AM ET
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Thanks for bringing up cryptos, Tim, which I indeed overlooked this time. It was 4 am and my eyes were getting bleary, mate. Will remember futurely. Thanks again.
Savin Surendran
Savin Surendran Feb 28, 2021 8:15AM ET
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Sir, Can we expect a more downside
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Feb 28, 2021 8:15AM ET
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Anything's possible, Savin, including a rebound to 1800 and beyond. Unfortunately, it's in the hands of the (insert adjective of your choice) Wall Street banks -- not retailers like you.
Derek de Roos
Derek de Roos Feb 28, 2021 8:03AM ET
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Time to get bullish on gold since it’s already becoming hated again.
Show previous replies (2)
Jermaine .A
Jermaine .A Feb 28, 2021 8:03AM ET
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apparently ******gets censored
Jermaine .A
Jermaine .A Feb 28, 2021 8:03AM ET
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*B l o w.
Lawrenti Berija
Lawrenti Berija Feb 28, 2021 8:03AM ET
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Jermaine .A ain't climbing, falling like a stone
Jermaine .A
Jermaine .A Feb 28, 2021 8:03AM ET
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considering it was at $1200 in 2018 I disagree. If it falls and stays below 1700 then I'd agree with you.
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Feb 28, 2021 8:03AM ET
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Jermaine .A  There are some words that get caught in the admin's filter. B L O W, regrettably, is one (though I think you can make the connotation ... wink, wink :) )
 
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