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

    Video Twists and Turns Aplenty in US Presidential Race

    Even as Americans pause for this week’s Memorial Day holiday, much attention is focused on the presidential contest

    Iran Orders Social Media Sites to Store Data Inside Country

    New requirements are expected to affect the instant messaging app Telegram, which has more than 20 million users inside Iran

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.8954
    JPY
    USD
    109.65
    GBP
    USD
    0.6827
    CAD
    USD
    1.3037
    INR
    USD
    67.037

    Rates may not be current.