Gold finally recaptured its $1,800 an ounce berth on Thursday after a 10-week lapse.
But some analysts tracking the yellow metal were doubtful if it could retain the momentum given its relatively abysmal performance for this year. That the latest rally came on the back of sector rotations on Wall Street made some even more circumspect.
Gold has also been notably late in reflecting ramping concerns about U.S. inflation — when it should have been the first commodity to do so, given its long-standing role as a store of value.
Benchmark gold futures on New York’s Comex settled up $31.40, or 1.8%, at $1,815.70 an ounce. The session high was $1,818.25.
The spot price of gold was up $27.86, or 1.6%, to $1,814.60 by 3:00 PM ET (19:00 GMT), after a session peak at $1,818.09.
Investors sometimes decide on the direction for gold by looking at the spot price — which reflects bullion for prompt delivery — instead of the futures.
“I’m not convinced yet that we’re there with gold,” said Phillip Streible, chief market strategist at Blueline Futures in Chicago. “I need to see a few daily closings above the $1,800 level to be convinced that we can proceed to the $1,900 area and challenge the $2,000 highs of August.”
“If you want an inflation hedge, there are lots of other commodities now where you can get that, from copper to even ags like soybeans.”
Ole Hansen, head of commodities strategy at Saxo Bank, also said gold had more to prove.
“Buy stops from long-term shorts has yet to be challenged, so now comes the hard work of staying above,” Hansen said in a tweet. “Support (at) $1,795 with next upside levels of interest being $1,818 followed by $1,851.”
Sunil Kumar Dixit of S.K. Dixit Charting in Kolkata, India, said gold could go both ways.
“After a much-awaited and coiled move, gold has surged past $1,800 and touched $1,818, which strengthens the case for the next immediate target of $1,829,” said Dixit. “But any move below $1,805-$1,785 will be construed as a logical correction, and that could extend back down towards $1,735.”
Since the year began, gold has faced continuous headwinds as the dollar and bond yields often surged on the argument that U.S. economic recovery from the pandemic could exceed expectations, leading to fears of spiralling inflation as the Federal Reserve kept interest rates at near zero.
The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was at 1.564 on Thursday, off the key 1.6% level.
The Dollar Index, which pits the greenback against the euro and five other major currencies, was at 90.985, below the key 91 level.
Gold had a scorching run in mid-2020 when it rose from March lows of under $1,500 to reach record highs of nearly $2,100 by August, responding to inflationary concerns sparked by the first U.S. fiscal relief of $3 trillion approved for the coronavirus pandemic.
Breakthroughs in vaccine development since November, along with optimism of economic recovery, however, forced gold to close 2020 trading at just below $1,900.
This year, the rut worsened as gold fell first to $1,800 levels in January, then collapsed to below $1,660 at one point in March.
Such weakness in gold is remarkable if considered from the perspective of the Covid-19 stimulus of $1.9 trillion passed by Congress in March, and the Biden administration’s plans for an additional infrastructure spending of $2.2 trillion.
A rash of US economic data, from inflation to consumer spending, homebuilding, house prices and employment, have exceeded forecasts lately, boosting hopes for faster-than-expected recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
These have boosted prices of inflation-sensitive commodities like oil, lumber and even coffee.
But gold, supposedly the world’s No. 1 inflation-hedge and the “safe haven” everyone turns to in moments of financial and political trouble — has performed miserably for months on end.