David Hargreaves on Precious Metals, week 39 2013

Precious metals and moneyOn a week-to-week basis, gold holds steady in the water at $1300-1350 whilst the occasional daily knee-jerk of up to $40 in either direction fuels the bulls and bears in equal measure. At the risk of boring, we maintain that a median price of $1200, possibly even $1000, is affected by two factors: the direction of the US economy and the Middle East political cauldron. The latter is taking a breather. President Obama is talking to the Iranians. It will terrify the Israelis, but as Churchill said, “Jaw, jaw is better than war, war.” The Syrian conflict takes on a more ominous twist. There is no stomach from the US or its junior partner, Britain, to go in mob-handed. Perhaps just as well because nobody understands any more what the rebels are about. The fear is they side with Al Qaeda. America shilly-shallied regarding once more the volume, timing and direction of quantitative easing, too. It has brought out the heavyweights, whose consensus includes:

  • David Morgan. He says if gold touched $1000, it would still be in an uptrend, since it spent years at $300-400. He looks for silver perhaps hitting $48 (now $21) and calls it ‘the grey metal.’. Oh dear.
  • GFMS looks for gold below $1300 in 2014, to average $1350 with support at $1200-1250. It stresses the growing Chinese influence and so does WIM.
  • Goldman Sachs is not shy when it comes to forecasting and, looking at a ‘medium term’ forecast of $1050, suggests producers start to hedge again. As Mineweb points out, the power of Goldman could help fulfil the prophesy.
  • Mining Journal goes along with the downward pressure, too. Correspondent Tim Treadgold notes:

– Strikes in RSA are no longer consequential.

– A strong US economy drives the price down

– Large sections of the financial economy have turned against gold.

  • The Mining Journal Gold Seminar, held September 6th, which David Hargreaves chaired, inclined towards caution, too, but not depression. A consensus thought: “buying and general interest is moving from West to East. India, long the dominant consumer, is at a crossroads on balance of payments concerns. China is the dark horse. A report on the seminar appeared in J/J September 20th. If you would like a copy, contact WIM.
  • But all is not gloom. Rhona O’Connell of Thompson Reuters notes jewellery fabrication at its highest level in 16 years and production is edging up. She looks for $1500 at the start of next year, but a $1350 average.
  • Sprott Asset Management is an unrepentant bull. Leaning back on the performance of 1974-76-80 which make startling reading, it looks for possibly $2000.

WIM says: We stick with our well publicised view that in a market devoid of political pressures, $1000 would be an OK level. Above that, $500 would be added depending on the severity. It makes a punt on the metal preferable to the shares. China’s gold production, already the world’s largest, advanced 11.5% year-on-year in the January-July 2013 period to 232t, including scrap. It indicates 400t of mined output for 2013.

Platinum. We tire of South Africa’s labour problems, dalliance over licences and dithering over a clear road map for foreign investment. Thus its continued strikes are beginning to bore. It is having no material effect on the platinum price, despite that country having the lion’s share of reserves and production. The price ratio to gold has now slipped to 1.06 from a high above 1.14. Workers are turning down an above-inflation 8% wage increase and continuing to strike as the two unions, NUM and AMCU, slug it out. Learn the hard way then, but it is no way to run a show.

About David Hargreaves

David Hargreaves

David Hargreaves

David Hargreaves is a mining engineer with over forty years of senior experience in the industry. After qualifying in coal mining he worked in the iron ore mines of Quebec and Northwest Ontario before diversifying into other bulk minerals including bauxite. He was Head of Research for stockbrokers James Capel in London from 1974 to 1977 and voted Mining Analyst of the year on three successive occasions.

Since forming his own metals broking and research company in 1977, he has successfully promoted and been a director of several public companies. He currently writes “The Week in Mining”, an incisive review of world mining events, for stockbrokers WH Ireland. David’s research pays particular attention to steel via the iron ore and coal supply industries. He is a Chartered Mining Engineer, Fellow of the Geological Society and the Institute of Mining, Minerals and Materials, and a Member of the Royal Institution. His textbook, “The World Index of Resources and Population” accurately predicted the exponential rise in demand for steel industry products.

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