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BMO hikes gold forecast; prices 'natural beneficiary' of low interest rates

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(Kitco News) - BMO Capital Markets upgraded its forecast for gold prices Wednesday while downgrading the outlook for many other commodities.

BMO sees gold averaging $1,660 an ounce in the second quarter and rising to $1,700 in the fourth. The bank’s full-year forecast is now at $1,654, increasing to $1,698 next year.

The bank looks for silver to average $15.50 an ounce in the second quarter, then $18.50 in the next two quarters, with a full-year average of $17.18. The 2021 outlook was put at $18.05.

A previously expected global economic and industrial recovery in 2020 has been “stopped in its tracks” by the COVID-19 pandemic, BMO said. Businesses are shutting down around the world to slow the spread of the virus. As a result, the bank now expects a 0.8% contraction in global industrial production this year, the first slowdown since 2009.

“And as a result, we have revised down our 2020 outlook across many of the commodities we cover, while pushing gold expectations higher,” BMO said.

Nevertheless, prices for all commodities – with the exception of iron ore – are likely to be higher next year, as supportive government stimulus efforts take hold, BMO said.

“We see gold as a natural beneficiary of even lower global interest rates and its safe-haven status should receive another airing in 2020,” BMO said. “Meanwhile, we see silver as not only hanging on gold’s coattails, but also potentially outperforming should governments move towards fiscal spending on 5G and solar technology.”

Analysts pointed out that after the 2008 global financial crisis, gold and silver prices recovered months ahead of the global industrial economy.

Meanwhile, BMO said the platinum and palladium markets are likely to be volatile with both weaker auto sales and supply. However, since palladium stocks are already low, another price rally is likely when the auto industry restarts, BMO continued.

Platinum is seen averaging $950 an ounce in the second quarter and $1,000 in the fourth, with a full-year forecast of $971. Palladium is seen averaging $2,500 in the second quarter but falling to $2,250 in the fourth for a full-year average of $2,313.

BMO said its biggest downward revision to commodity prices in 2020 was in copper, but the outlook for other base metals was also lowered, including aluminum, zinc and nickel. These are all industrial metals. Copper is seen averaging $2.27 a pound in the second quarter and $2.33 for the full year.

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