Outlook for precious metals remains bright, but uncertainty looms

Precious metal prices trended higher during the second quarter of 2021 but retraced markedly in mid-June following the US Federal Reserve’s stance toward a faster tightening of monetary policy. More broadly, strengthening demand and ongoing inflation concerns boosted gold prices while silver and platinum prices were further supported by the ongoing recovery in industrial activity and some supply disruptions. Precious metal prices are anticipated to stay high in 2021 before retreating in 2022.

Precious metal prices

Precious Metals Prices

Gold prices surpassed US$1,900 per ounce in early June—the highest since January 2021—driven by jewelry demand in China, investment inflows, and lower real interest rates.  Chinese holiday- and wedding-related jewelry purchases provided support for gold prices, but this was offset by muted Indian demand due to surging COVID-19 infections. Gold-backed exchange-traded funds (ETFs) registered inflows in May, after three consecutive months of outflows. U.S. real interest rates also fell in May as monetary policy remained accommodative and inflation expectations increased. Accommodative monetary policy keeps the opportunity cost of holding gold low, while high inflation expectations increase the appeal of gold as an inflation hedge. Gold price weakened in mid-June, after the US Federal Reserve signaled that it would raise interest rates and end its bond purchases sooner than expected.

Gold prices and interest rates

gold prices and interest rates

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