Short-term cyclical weakness versus long-term structural upside
Returning to a broader commodity market focus, Saxo holds the view that key commodities are at the beginning of a multi-year bull market driven by CapEx drought due to rising funding costs, lower investment appetite and lending restrictions. The green transformation is creating “greenflation” through rising demand for industrial metals towards “new” energy at a time where miners are faced with rising costs, lower ore grades, growing social and environmental scrutiny, and in some cases resource nationalism.
In addition, we are seeing increased fragmentation pushing up demand for, and prices of, key commodities. The agriculture sector will likely face a higher degree of weather volatility and price spikes. Overall, these supply and demand imbalances may take years to correct, ending up supporting structural inflation above 3% which will likely increase investment demand for tangible assets such as commodities.
Gold rally slows as Fed pause boosts risk sentiment
The reason gold did not shoot back above $2k after Powell hinted the FOMC is done hiking rates, was the fact bullion had already moved considerably within the past few weeks. And while the rally initially was triggered by the unrest in the Middle East and wrong-footed short sellers in the futures market, we believe the bulk of the near 200-dollar rally was fueled by the continued surge in US bond yields with traders and investors growing increasingly concerned about US fiscal policy, and especially whether the recent jump in both real and nominal yields would end up ‘breaking something’. That focus triggered an unusual situation where rising bond yields and indeed, dollar strength, ended up supporting gold.
With US treasury yields showing signs of stabilization and potentially beginning to soften a touch, we may see normal relations between bullion and yields reestablishing, and while peak rates will add support to gold in the months ahead, the continued move towards higher prices will be challenged by usual periods of consolidation and corrections. For now, however, with multiple geopolitical uncertainties still supplying some support, we believe any short-term correction will be short lived and shallow, not least the continued and rising support from central banks as they continue to buy bullion at a record pace.
For a second year running, strong central bank demand helps explain why gold has not behaved ‘normally’, rallying to a near record high during a period of surging US real yields, higher cost of carry, a strong dollar, and heavy ETF selling. A recent update from the World Gold Council showed how central banks, led by China, are likely to test last year’s all-time high for gold buys this year, with the buying being led by emerging markets looking to reduce their reliance on the US dollar for reserves holding. According to the WGC, central have bought 800 tonnes in the first nine months of the year, up 14 per cent year-on-year, and provided we see another strong fourth quarter, last year's record above 1000 tonnes could be breached.
Against these 800 tonnes of central bank buying, the year to Q3 reduction in total ETF holdings stood at 183 tonnes, and it highlights why this selling has had such a limited negative impact on prices. We believe renewed interest for ETFs, as seen this past week when holdings rose for the first time since May, will be the trigger that eventually sends gold higher. Such a change will occur either when we see a clear trend towards lower rates and/or an upside break forcing a response from real money allocators for ‘fear of missing out’.