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Gold is well-positioned for when the Fed breaks something

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(Kitco News) - The gold market may not be able to break out of its neutral trading channel around $1,950 just yet, but it is well positioned to benefit when sentiment turns, which could be sooner than some are expecting.

Yes, the U.S. has been able to avoid a recession and expectations of a soft landing continue to grow; however, many analysts remain doubtful that this optimistic goal can be achieved.

For many analysts, gold’s price action proves that investors are taking a more cautious stance to protect themselves against a downturn.

Gold’s position is even more impressive when you look at what it faced this week. Although the Federal Reserve did not raise interest rates on Wednesday, it maintained its hawkish bias. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said that although the interest rates are close to a peak, the central bank will keep interest rates at restrictive levels for the foreseeable future.

He added that the central bank will only know when rates are sufficiently restrictive when they see it.

The biggest surprise for many economists in this week’s decision is that the central bank sees only two potential rate cuts next year, down from the four rate cuts projected in June. This fits the growing “higher-for-longer” narrative that is building.

The Fed’s stance pushed 10-year bond yields to a fresh 15-year high at 4.5%. At the same time, the U.S. dollar index pushed above 105 points to its highest level since November 2022. Analysts at Commerzbank noted that real yields have reached 2%, an increase of 50 basis points from last month.

Despite all this, gold continues to hold around $1,950 an ounce, which has become an important psychological level.

In an interview with Kitco News, George Milling-Stanley, chief gold strategist at State Street Global Advisors, said that gold remains an important portfolio diversifier as the Fed continues to put pressure on the economy to cool down inflation.

Economic risks supporting gold in neutral territory around $1,950

"At the start of the year, I said that equity markets have more to fear from the Fed than gold does, and I still believe that," he said. "Yes, the economy has been very resilient so far this year, but Powell said on Wednesday that they still need below-trend growth to get inflation down to the 2% target. Investors should believe Powell when he says that, because he means it."

And it’s not just the Federal Reserve that is entering the end game. The Swiss National Bank, the Bank of England, and the Bank of Japan also left interest rates unchanged this week.

Both the SNB and the BOE said that they are close to getting inflation under control as economic growth starts to weaken. Gold performed well against both currencies after their monetary policy decisions.

Although the gold market lacks momentum while investors sit on the sidelines, Milling-Stanley noted that there is still significant growth potential in the marketplace. This week State Street released an update to its gold investor survey published in June. The updated analysis looked at the role financial advisors can play in developing the gold market.
The survey showed that 20% of respondents said they held some gold. In further analysis, the report said that roughly one-third of investors didn't invest in gold because they didn't know enough about how to invest in the precious metal.

"The main message from the analysts is that the future of gold investment seems to be safe. That is very, very good news," said Milling-Stanley.

Finally, let’s not forget central bank demand continues to provide a solid base. Analysts at The World Gold Council reported that Russia’s central bank bought 3 tonnes of gold last month, and Russia’s gold reserves are now back to their 2022 levels.

That is it for this week, have a great weekend.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Kitco Metals Inc. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. This article is strictly for informational purposes only. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in commodities, securities or other financial instruments. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.