Gold forges best run since 2011 as stars align for bullion bulls

Singapore - Gold bulls are finding 2018 offers plenty of reasons to be cheerful. Bullion’s wrapping up a third quarterly gain, a feat not seen since 2011; fund holdings are at the highest in a half-decade; and haven demand may get a boost with foreign-policy hawks in the ascendant in Washington.

Spot bullion was steady at $1 323.92 at 08:54 in London, up 1.6% this quarter, according to Bloomberg generic pricing. That follows a similar increase in the final three months of last year, and 3.1% climb in 2017’s third quarter, with the rise coming even as the Federal Reserve has been pulling the trigger consistently on US interest rates.

Gold’s advance this year has come with its haven qualities back in focus as President Donald Trump’s administration picks a series of trade fights with friends and foes, and investors fret about equity market wobbles that’ve started on Wall Street and echoed around the world.

Bullion

At the same time, although geopolitical tensions may be easing in Korea, Trump’s pick of John Bolton as his new national security adviser has spurred speculation of a potentially harder line against Iran, aiding both bullion and crude oil next quarter.

“The new appointees bring a significantly more hawkish stance on foreign affairs,” Australia & New Zealand Banking Group said in a note on Thursday, referring to Bolton as well as Trump’s choice of CIA Director Mike Pompeo to head the State Department.

“While the obvious impact will be increasing safe-haven buying in gold, we see growing geopolitical risks raising concerns of supply-side issues in the oil market, too.”

Holdings in bullion-backed exchange-traded products hit 2 268.6 metric tons this month, the biggest amount since 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The hoard has risen about 43 tons this year, the eighth quarterly rise in the past nine. The dollar’s lost almost 3% since December 31, while global stocks are set for the first quarterly fall since early 2016.

In other precious metals:

  • Silver is down 4% this quarter.
  • Platinum is heading for a second quarterly gain.
  • Palladium slumped 8.7% in the first three months of this year, set for the biggest quarterly loss since late 2015.

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