News / Economy

    Fading Volatility Promises Long Period of Gold Stagnation

    FILE - Gold bars and U.S. dollar bills.
    FILE - Gold bars and U.S. dollar bills.
    Reuters

    Ultra-calm trading conditions in gold are becoming self-perpetuating as a persistent lack of volatility frustrates investors seeking a return, pushing them further away from a market that analysts say could be becalmed for years.

    Gold, which saw a dramatic reversal last year after a 12-year bull run took prices to record highs in 2011, has seen the spread between its daily price highs and lows narrow to just $15 an ounce this year on average, from nearly $25 in 2013.

    Implied volatility, an estimation of an asset's future volatility, has dropped in gold to around 12 percent this month from an average of 19 percent in August last year, and from highs of nearly 60 percent in mid-2008.

    With the dollar strengthening, equities showing a better return, and signs of inflation still notably absent from most developed economies, the metal has run out of reasons to rise.

    “We are pretty unexcited by the outlook of gold,” Charles Morris, head of absolute return at HSBC Global Asset Management, said. “It could stay in this range for another five years.

    “If inflation is under control for a long period of time, then gold will be under control for a long period of time, and because you don't get a yield, it is a waste of money to have a large position in gold.”

    Gold is not the only market to be losing momentum. Volatility in the global foreign exchange market approached historic lows in July, while average daily volumes dropped by almost 14 percent, data from FX settlement system CLS showed.

    “What the central banks have done to provide liquidity has pushed down volatility in the commodity market, and interest rates market, and indeed equities,” Credit Suisse analyst Tom Kendall said. “They all feed through to every part of the traded economy, so it is a problem for FX traders, it is a problem for interest rates traders, it's a problem across everything.”

    As an asset in its own right, gold does not lack price drivers at the moment. The problem is, they are working against each other.

    Federal Reserve policy is slowly normalizing after years of ultra-loose conditions, which had fed into rising gold prices. The U.S. central bank has signaled that it is ready to start thinking about raising interest rates, probably next year.

    That should be pushing prices lower, as should a rise in the dollar index this year. But working against that is uncertainty over the long-term inflationary effects of the monetary stimulus measures that followed the 2008 financial crisis.

    Gold has also taken support from outbreaks of violence in Ukraine and the Middle East, which some fear may destabilize a fledgling recovery in the European Union and push up oil prices.

    The fact that this unrest has not done more to push prices is adding to investors' caution over gold.

    “There has been very little and short-lived correlation between the Middle East problems, Russia and Ukraine with gold itself,” Adam Laird, investment manager at Hargreaves Lansdown, said. “There is a lot of concern among smaller investors that the market has not been able to react to wider political events.”

    Store of value

    Not all buyers are seeking price volatility. Those who buy metal as a store of value, for instance, prefer a stable market. This has particularly been true in India, historically the world's biggest gold consumer, where buying dried up during the violent price moves that followed the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

    But supply to Indian consumers has been constrained by restrictions on gold imports as the government tries to get its current account deficit under control, meaning its response to a more appealing price environment has been limited.

    Meanwhile buyers in China, which has recently overtaken India as the world's number one gold consumer, appear much less happy with price stability.

    Consumer demand is not in any event going to lead to a repeat of gold's scorching price rise of the last decade. The doubling in gold prices in the three years to September 2011 was overwhelmingly due to investment flows, as funds piled into the metal as a haven from financial market risk.

    What would turn gold around would be a significant rise in inflation, which few economists see happening any time soon. Until another clear driver emerges, investors prefer to stay on the sidelines.

    “Essentially, you have plenty of supply, [and] demand is likely to fall because of low volatility, rising interest rates and a strong dollar,” HSBC's Morris said. “You put all this together and you think: 'why are people going to come running'?”  

    You May Like

    S. African Farmer Goes From 'Voice in the Wilderness' to Sought-After Expert

    Margarest Roberts has authored more than 40 books on subjects like organic farming, urban agriculture, herbs and ‘superfoods'

    Millennial Men Prefer Bucks Over Beauty

    U.S. men aged 18 to 34 say the finances of a potential significant other are more important than her looks

    Multimedia Lebanese Clown Troupe Marks Valentine's Day Amid Stink

    Activists resort to unusual approaches to raise public awareness of country’s ongoing trash crisis

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.8899
    JPY
    USD
    114.87
    GBP
    USD
    0.6937
    CAD
    USD
    1.3904
    INR
    USD
    68.044

    Rates may not be current.