Gold price sees triple-digit gains in March, but can it set record highs in April?
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(Kitco News) Gold gained $150 in March — its best month since July 2020. And with analysts seeing markets contradicting the Fed's messaging, gold has a lot more upside, including testing and breaking record highs in April, according to analysts.
The gold market is wrapping up March just below $2,000 an ounce. This is up 7% on the month and 9% year-to-date — the best monthly performance since July 2020 and the best quarterly result since Q2 2020.
The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank three weeks ago triggered the banking crisis, which revised the markets' Federal Reserve outlook from more rate hikes to rate cuts.
"This could morph into a financial crisis. There's been a large decline in market values of assets on the books across the regional banking sector in a significantly tighter environment. Not only was there a loss of market value but also large outflows of deposits from less restrictive to more restrictive banks," TD Securities global head of commodity strategy Bart Melek told Kitco News. "The Fed is less likely to be overly hawkish as we move into 2023."
And even with turbulence subsiding, gold is still trading at higher levels. "Gold hasn't come back down very far even though banking fears are abating for the moment. This is a strong sign and is very encouraging for gold bulls," Gainesville Coins precious metals expert Everett Millman told Kitco News.
Even though the Fed has not signaled that it is debating a rate cut, markets are starting to price that in. "With the bank space turbulence and inflation pointing down, I suspect that the market is looking past a lot of the Fed's hawkish rhetoric and is calling for a pivot that is significantly ahead of the dot plots," Melek pointed out.
Investors should pay close attention to the incoming data as any weaker-than-expected number increases the chance of a rate cut this year.
"With the risk of a hard landing for the economy on the rise, this increases the chances that inflation will fall more quickly and allow the Fed to respond with interest rate cuts before the end of this year," said ING chief international economist James Knightley.
Next week, traders will be getting the March employment report. Market consensus calls are projecting for the U.S. economy to have added 240,000 jobs and for the unemployment rate to have remained at 3.6%.
Following March events, TD Securities is now projecting gold to average $1,975 in Q2, $2,050 in Q3, and $2,100 in Q4.
Gold's first week of April
The gold space could experience some losses in the short term, warned Millman. "There is some downside risk. A relief rally in equities can drive some money out of gold," he said.
A solid support level is around $1,900 and $1,850, and immediate resistance is at $2,000 an ounce and then $2,060-70, he said.
"When you look at the shorts vs. longs in gold futures, the sentiment is still fairly neutral. If you see some swing in public perception, what's happening with the dollar or the U.S. economy, it could swing sentiment, and gold would be the first to react to that," Millman noted.
It is unclear whether the volatility in the banking sector is over. But all the extra lending overseen by the Fed is yet to slow down, said Bannockburn Global Forex chief market strategist Marc Chandler.
"The banking stress that roiled the markets this month has eased. However, the emergency lending by the Federal Reserve, via the discount window and the new Bank Term Funding Program hardly slowed in the past week ($152.6 bln vs. $163.9 bln)," Chandler said Friday.
Barclays warned that the banking crisis is likely far from over, as a "second wave" of deposit outflows is coming.
"We think the first wave of outflows may be nearly over … But the recent tumult regarding deposit safety may have awakened 'sleepy' depositors and started what we believe will be a second wave of deposit departures, with balances moving into money market funds," Barclays strategist Joseph Abate said in a note.
A second wave of outflows is likely to be triggered by "sleepy" depositors moving their savings from banks to money-market funds for better and safer returns, Abate clarified.
"It is too hard to shift balances or to establish a new relationship with another institution unless there is a large, convincing yield pickup. But some of it could reflect the fact that after 15 years of near-zero rates, depositors are not in the habit of paying much attention to the yield on their cash balances," Abate said.
Next week's data
Monday: ISM manufacturing PMI
Tuesday: U.S. factory orders
Wednesday: U.S. ADP nonfarm employment, ISM services PMI
Thursday: U.S. jobless claims
Friday: U.S. nonfarm payrolls