(Kitco News) A hawkish Federal Reserve has knocked gold back below $1,800 an ounce, but the precious metal is starting to retrace its gains heading into the weekend. Analysts warn of additional volatility during the last full week of the year.
The big news markets are still digesting is the aggressive Fed message, with rates peaking above 5% next year. The median forecast for next year shows that rates could go up to 5.1%, with Fed Chair Jerome Powell saying that rates will stay there “for some time.”
Despite cooler inflation numbers from November, the Fed is staying on track with no pivot or pause signaled for the beginning of next year. Surprising many on the hawkish side, Powell said Wednesday that rates are not “restrictive enough” even after 425 basis points worth of hikes this year.
“It’s now not so important how fast we go. It’s far more important to think what is the ultimate level. And then, at a certain point, the question will become, how long do we remain restrictive? That will become the most important question,” Powell said.
For the February Fed meeting, markets are looking for a 75% chance of a 25 bps hike and a 25% chance of a 50 bps increase, according to the CME FedWatch Tool.
“[Powell] played down the degree of cuts that are being forecast in the dot plot for 2024, suggesting they wouldn’t ideally cut until they saw 2% inflation,” said Pepperstone’s head of research Chris Weston.
In response to a tighter monetary policy path ahead, gold tumbled from multi-month highs and dropped below $1,800 an ounce. At the end of the week, the precious metal retraced some of the lost gains, with February Comex gold futures last at $1,799.30, down 0.63% on the week.
“Gold is sending out a lot of mixed signals. It seems to like uncertainty and the idea that Fed is struggling to strike the right balance with rate hikes. The idea that interest rates will remain higher for longer, is pretty negative for the gold price on balance,” Gainesville Coins precious metals expert Everett Millman told Kitco News.
The Fed is also projecting GDP to grow just 0.5% and core PCE at 3.5% in 2023.
The context of the Fed’s message is also very important to consider. And markets are entering the last full week of the year. “We are entering a period where it is the last full trading week of the year. Gold is trading fairly choppy,” OANDA senior market analyst Edward Moya told Kitco News.
Short-term Moya is bearish on the gold price, but longer-term, the outlook is bullish. “We are going to see gold traders being cautious here. Because of lighter liquidity and it will still be more of a one-way trade and pressure gold,” Moya said. “Right now, we need to price in more Fed tightening, more ECB tightening, and interest rates going up.”
Next year, gold will become safe heaven, Moya added. “As you start to see more strains on crypto and more pressures with economic data deteriorating quickly, gold will start to see more safe-haven flows next year.”
One signal to watch is the ETF buying, Moya pointed out. “You need to see that trade gain one momentum. The first half of next year — I am bullish gold.”
Going into next week, gold’s support is at $1,750, and gains are likely to be capped at $1,840, Moya noted.
Millman added that the first resistance is at $1,800 an ounce, and that level will remain pretty stubborn. Meanwhile, the first support is at $1,775. But if that level fails, gold could fall to $1,715 an ounce, Millman warned.
Data to watch
Tuesday: U.S. building permits and housing starts
Wednesday: U.S. CB consumer confidence, existing home sales
Thursday: U.S. Q3 GDP, U.S. jobless claims,
Friday: U.S. PCE price index, U.S. durable goods, U.S. new home sales
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