Head of Commodity Strategy
Summary: Gold has cleared key resistance alongside the rout in US stocks, and appears to be breaking its negative correlation to rising US real yields and the CNY.
Editor's note: The full-format WCU report will return next week.
Gold seems to be breaking its negative correlation to rising US real yields and the Chinese yuan. The yuan and gold have almost been joined by the hip of late, seeing weakness since the US-China trade war began. However the emerging softness in US stocks this week combined with the recent rise in bond yields and speculation that the dollar may be peaking have triggered renewed demand for diversification and tail-end protection.
The close correlation between gold and the yuan has baffled the market in recent months. While no clear explanation exists, some speculation has emerged that the People's Bank of China is seeking a stable currency, not against the dollar but against gold. Indeed, XAUCNH (off-shore) and also onshore XAUCNY have traded in a very stable fashion during the recent period. Yesterday, however, the price broke the downtrend from 2016 and while the PBoC has undoubtedly been buying into the recent weakness, we are unlikely to see any selling emerge on renewed gold strength.
Yesterday’s weaker-than-expected US CPI reading strengthened the market's belief that the Federal Reserve may be making a policy mistake if it doesn’t step away from its “nowhere near normal” stance on rates. Together with a bounce in bonds as stocks continued lower, this narrative helped trigger the biggest one-day rally since June 2016, when the Brexit vote in the UK shocked the market.
Gold has now cleared the first hurdle of resistance at $1,210/oz but in order for this to be more than a weak correction within a major downtrend it needs at a minimum to break above $1,238/oz, the 38.2% retracement of this years sell-off.
The weekly COT report has highlighted the (up until recently) continued build in speculative short positions held by hedge funds. The peak was reached a couple of weeks back when the net-short hit a record 77,000 lots. This was three times bigger than the previous record short from December 2015, which occurred ahead of the first Fed rate hike. Given the impact of previous periods of short-covering, a return to a neutral position could see the gold price higher by between $50 and $75/oz.
While the S&P 500 was down 5.4% Thursday and heading for its worst week since March, the VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) was up 6.5%, its best week since January 2017. The exchange-traded fund tracks the performance of and invests in materials stocks of all cap sizes across the globe. Its largest allocation is in North America with Newmont Mining Corp. and Barrick Gold Corp. accounting for close to 20% of its exposure.