Focus: Update: Gold Resumes Uptrend Following FOMC Statement

21 September 2010, 4:05 p.m. EST
By Allen Sykora
Of Kitco News
http://www.kitco.com/

(Kitco News) -- Gold resumed its uptrend after Federal Reserve policy-makers said Tuesday that they are willing to undertake further action to prop up the economy, with the metal moving to record highs.

Still, some cautioned that gold could be due for a corrective pullback in a market that already has so much bullish enthusiasm.

Gold finished the Comex pit session weaker, which was blamed largely on profit-taking ahead of the release of a post-meeting statement from the Federal Open Market Committee. As most expected, the Fed did not undertake quantitative easing, in which it would buy debt instruments such as Treasury bonds to help push down long-term yields. However, the Fed language was construed to mean this is a distinct possibility down the road, supporting gold prices.

“The FOMC will continue to monitor the economic outlook and financial developments and is prepared to provide additional accommodation if needed to support the economic recovery and return inflation, over time, to levels consistent with its mandate,” the statement said.

This demonstrated a bias toward easing, said a report from Nomura Global Economics. “Unless the incoming data improves significantly, we believe a resumption of (quantitative easing) at the November FOMC meeting is now quite likely,” Nomura said.

Around 3:30 p.m. EDT (1930 GMT), spot gold was up $6.90 to $1,285.40 an ounce, compared to $1,272 about 10 minutes ahead of the Fed statement. December gold on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange was $6.90 higher at $1,287.70, compared to $1,273.30 ahead of time. In after-hours trading following the Fed statement, the December futures went on to a high of $1,290.40; that is a fresh record for a most-active Comex contract.

“They all but confirmed (quantitative easing),” said Zachary Oxman, managing director of TrendMax Futures. “That’s extremely weak for the dollar and very strong for gold, as you saw a big spike up through $1,290. I think we see $1,300 before the week is out and I am still thinking of $1,400 to $1,500 by year-end.”

The Fed statement left the U.S. dollar under pressure, adding support to gold, said Bob Haberkorn, senior market strategist with Lind-Waldock. The metal often moves inversely to the dollar, bought as a hedge against greenback weakness and because a lower dollar makes commodities cheaper in other currencies and thus helps demand.

“I anticipate gold could get through this $1,300 pretty quickly,” Haberkorn said.

Some market participants had already been pricing in potential for quantitative easing in recent sessions, said Michael Gross, broker and futures analyst with OptionSellers.com.

“So when we actually got the announcement that they weren’t doing it now but could in the future, it’s pretty much what everybody expected them to say,” Gross said. “So I don’t think it’s a big bullish surprise for gold by any means. It looks like we got a little lift from it because the dollar is falling more sharply than a lot of people expected it would.”

Now, technical considerations might be limiting gold’s upside in the short term in a market that is “tremendously overbought,” Gross said. “We think there is such a long position in gold right now that it may have a hard time trading substantially higher before it’s had a little correction first,” he said. Still, he also looks for gold to eventually hit $1,300, especially if the dollar weakens further on additional quantitative easing.

The most recent data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed that managed-money accounts were net long by 227,384 lots for futures and options combined as of Sept. 14, approaching the high of 238,943 from last October. When large speculators become excessively long, traders sometimes view this as a hint that a short-term reversal might be in order as some traders sell to book profits and the market runs out of potential buying ammunition.

Ahead of the Fed meeting, most analysts said they did not expect quantitative easing as soon as Tuesday, with policy-makers instead likely to wait to see whether there is more significant deterioration in the economy. Thus, many had expected that the lack of a quantitative-easing announcement might have led to some profit-taking that would have pressured gold, rather than the price rise that occurred.

There was profit-taking, but this seemed to have already run its course in the run-up to the FOMC statement, said Michael Zarembski, senior commodities analyst with optionsXpress. Had gold been higher at the time, he said, the metal may well have turned lower. But with gold already on the defensive, that meant lower prices were seen as a bargain-hunting opportunity, he said.

 

By Allen Sykora of Kitco News; asykora@kitco.com