Gold is poised to climb the most in two years as prospects for additional economic stimulus by governments from the U.S. to China stoke demand for the precious metal as a bet against inflation, a survey showed.
Bullion for immediate delivery may reach $1,800 an ounce by the year-end, extending gains this year to 15 percent, according to the median forecast in the Bloomberg survey of 15 traders and analysts at a conference in Hyderabad in South India on Aug. 25. That would be the most since a 30 percent surge in 2010, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Gold is set for a 12th year of gains as the European sovereign-debt crisis boosts haven demand amid speculation of further policy easing by central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, which may be considering a third round of so-called quantitative easing, or QE3. Investment holdings have expanded to a record on demand for a hedge against inflation.
“The euro zone has been quiet of late, but that doesn’t mean the problems have disappeared,” said Jeffrey Rhodes, global head of precious metals at INTL FCStone Inc., who expects gold to rally to $1,975 by year-end. “The U.S. economy has been sluggish and there is a growing belief that there is going to be QE3 soon. This anticipation is driving the market.”
Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said last week there’s “scope for further action” from the U.S. central bank. He is scheduled to speak later this week at the Fed’s annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. China’s Premier Wen Jiabao has urged additional steps to support exports and help meet economic targets as evidence mounts the slowdown is deepening.
Gold for immediate delivery rose as much as 0.4 percent to $1,676.90 an ounce today, the highest since April 13, and was little changed at $1,670.60 an ounce at 4:42 p.m. in Mumbai. Prices gained 3.4 percent last week, the most since the week ended Jan. 27. Spot gold reached a record $1,921.15 on Sept. 6.
“Europe’s financial situation is straining at the seams and with no fix forthcoming, demand for safe havens is likely to remain strong,” said Bimal Das, director at ScotiaMocatta, the metals trading unit of Bank of Nova Scotia.
The European leaders are preparing for a critical month in the three-year-old crisis that will involve the formulation of a European Central Bank bond-buying plan, a progress report by Greece’s international creditors and a looming German court decision on bailout funding on Sept. 12.
“More cash is coming into the market from investors,” said Philip Klapwijk, the global head of metals analytics at Thomson Reuters GFMS Ltd. “We expect there to be QE3 by September and gold will move substantially higher. The ETF demand has picked up and will continue to grow as prices rise.”
Holdings in gold-backed exchange-traded products, or ETPs, rose 0.1 percent to 2,448.64 metric tons on Aug. 24, data tracked by Bloomberg show. Billionaire investors George Soros and John Paulson increased their stakes in the SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest gold-backed ETP, in the second quarter, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings showed Aug. 14.
Central banks will purchase close to 500 tons this year after becoming net buyers in 2009, according to the producer-funded World Gold Council. Central banks added 254.2 tons to their holdings in the first half, according to the council, as countries from Russia to South Korea added to reserves.
“There is official interest in gold and central banks are buying, from Russia to Korea,” said Jeremy East, global head of metals trading at Standard Chartered Plc. “Central bank purchases are not driven by price but by asset allocation.”
Gold may “lose steam quickly” if the market is disappointed by a lack of action to stimulate economies, Barclays Plc said in an e-mailed report today. “For gold to extend its gains, it needs to continue to draw wider investor support in light of the fragile physical market,” analysts including Suki Cooper said in the report.
Gold imports by India, the biggest buyer, may decline by 250 tons to 350 tons this year as record prices in rupees cut into demand, East said. Consumption rose to a record 963.1 tons last year, driving bullion imports to the highest ever at 958 tons, according to the gold council.
“The Indian currency has weakened and could weaken further, so demand may not come in,” East said. The Indian rupee declined to a record of 57.3275 per dollar on June 22, making imports costlier.
Bullion for October delivery gained as much as 0.5 percent to an all-time high of 31,091 rupees ($559) per 10 grams on the Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd. today. Prices have climbed 13 percent this year.
GFMS is owned by Thomson Reuters Corp. and Bloomberg competes with Thomson Reuters in selling financial and legal information and trading systems.