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Gold ends 2018 on strong note

SINGAPORE: Gold is closing out 2018 on a strong note, with haven demand in the ascendant amid volatile trading in global equities, rising concern about the economic outlook and a drawn-out government shutdown in the US.

Spot bullion is holding near a six-month high after topping US$1,280 an ounce, and the metal is set for the best monthly gain in almost two years. December’s rally has pared an annual decline, the first full-year loss since 2015.

Gold gained ground last quarter as global equities plunged and doubts stacked up among some investors about the pace of global growth in 2019.

The climb has been aided by a weakening of the dollar in December amid expectations that the Federal Reserve will dial back the pace of rate increases next year. That’s helped to boost holdings in gold-backed exchange-traded funds.

“It does look like one where we will see a slackening of expectations in Fed hikes.”

Spot gold hit US$1,282.23 an ounce on Friday, the highest price since June, and it’s up 4.8% last month, according to Bloomberg generic pricing. It traded little-changed at US$1,279.04 an ounce at 6:07am in London yesterday.

Prices held their ground even after US President Donald Trump struck an upbeat tone on his trade dispute with China, one of the lingering threats to growth going into 2019.

Trump and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping spoke at length by phone on Saturday, with each expressing satisfaction.

A bullish breakout will take prices toward US$1,309 in the current term, according to Benjamin Lu, an analyst at Phillip Futures Pte Ltd.

Haven demand would “remain vigorous” in the first quarter on economic and geopolitical concerns, he said.

Gold’s spot price recently rose above the 200-day moving average, and the 50-day moving average may be on course to do the same in the coming weeks.

Adding to the bulls’ case, data showed manufacturing in Asia’s top economy shrank. China’s Purchasing Managers Index fell to 49.4 in December, lower than expected and below the level of 50 that signals contraction.

Among other precious metals, silver for immediate delivery was steady after hitting US$15.4031 an ounce, the highest level since August. A rally of more than 8% last month has eroded an annual drop.

Platinum is set for a full-year fall, while palladium traded just below a record hit earlier last month. — Bloomberg


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