Precious Metals Update from Frank Holmes & US Global Investors

Interesting Precious Metals summary from Frank Holmes and US Global Investors:

  • Sentiment: Gold is set to post its biggest annual loss in more than three decades as rallying U.S. equities and optimism about a synchronised global economic recovery lowered its safe haven appeal. The near 30 percent slump in 2013 ends a 12-year rally prompted by rock bottom interest rates and rapidly expanding central banks’ balance sheets. The mood remains bearish among generalists who expect prices to drop further next year. Several brokerages such as Goldman Sachs, BNP Paribas and Societe General have gold price targets below $1,150 in 2014. Physical demand, which climbed to peak levels this year, has shown it can provide support on the downside, but it has failed to drive prices higher. Silver is down just under 35 percent for the year, its worst annual performance since at least 1981.
  • Sentiment: Capital Economics argues the precious metal could come back into favor in 2014. “The consensus is that the price of gold will grind lower in 2014, at best, as the support from loose U.S. monetary policy gradually weakens,” said Julian Jessop, head of commodities research at the firm. “In contrast, with investor sentiment already so heavily negative, our view is that the risks for the coming year are firmly skewed to the upside.” According to Jessop, the latter half of 2013 suggests the worst of the slump may be over. Indeed, during this period, gold prices staged a partial recovery, rising to $1,400 before dropping back to current levels around $1,200. Jessop added that that next year, a re-emergence of eurozone instability, and the Fed’s continued asset purchase program, could work to boost gold prices. Although the Fed has announced a small taper, it will still be pumping large amounts of stimulus into the economy through most, if not all, of 2014. “We are happy to reiterate our view that the price of gold will revisit $1,400, at least, in 2014, and probably go higher,” Jessop concluded.
  • Supply Fundamentals: The German Bundesbank announced it has transferred 37 tons of gold back from New York and Paris to its Frankfurt vaults. Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann said the transfer was prompted by new a Bundesbank storage concept to hold gold in Frankfurt, and not because of concerns over its availability. However, Germany’s Federal court concluded in 2011 that the nation’s gold holdings overseas weren’t regularly checked, which prompted the initiation of plans to bring back a total 700 tons previously in deposit with the Fed and the Banque de France. As a Zero Hedge article points out, procuring physical gold seems to be a rather problematic and time-consuming process, as the Bundesbank is learning. It was almost exactly one year ago in mid-January, when the German central bank, in a shocking development expressing the bank’s lack of trust in its central banking peers, announced that it would proceed with the repatriation of 700 tons of gold held by its peers, only to learn it would take 7 years, or until 2020, to repatriate the full amount.
  • Supply Fundamentals: A Financial Times article this week speaks to the crisis of confidence in the mining sector. According to the report, the number of new mining listings in Canada, where roughly 70 percent of all mining equity finance is raised, plunged fuelled by a steep decline in metal prices. Up until the end of November, 62 companies had listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange or the TSX venture exchange, compared with 129 by the same point in 2012 and more than 200 in both 2009 and 2010. The amount of equity raised in Toronto has also fallen from $10.3 billion in the whole of 2012 to just $6.5 billion by the end of November. Almost half of this year’s total to date came in November when Barrick Gold, raised $3.1 billion of fresh equity.
  • Demand Fundamentals: India’s Commerce Ministry has asked to ease the restrictions on the import of gold, imposed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in an effort to control the rising current account deficit. In a letter to Economic Affairs Secretary, Commerce Secretary S. R. Rao asked him to “look into the matter” and issue necessary instructions to the RBI for the removal of the anomaly. The move would relieve jewelers who have been reeling from the government induced gold import curbs. So far, the government has responded with a bid to relax some of the conditions currently imposed on the import of gold ore by refiners, with the aim of kick starting India’s waning gold refineries, which have been operating at only 25 percent of installed capacity. Official sources have argued that the nation’s current account deficit has compressed significantly since the introduction of the import curbs, and this can be read as a first step in reducing the import duty on gold in a calibrated manner