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Gold Enjoys Best Year Since 2010 As Metal Posts Year-End Gain

December 31, 2019 at 18:19 by Andrew Moran

Gold futures are trading higher to finish the year as the precious metal enjoyed its strongest annual performance since 2010. With global trade uncertainty, market volatility, and monetary easing by central banks worldwide, investors sought refuge in the safe-haven asset in 2019. Can gold glitter again in 2020?

February gold futures rose $6.00, or 0.4%, to $1,524.60 per ounce at 17:00 GMT on Tuesday on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The yellow metal soared 18.7% in 2019, posting its best year since 2010 when it soared 30%.

Silver, the sister commodity to gold, is recording a modest loss in the final session of the year. March silver futures dipped $0.02, or 0.12%, to $17.98 an ounce. The white metal surged 15.5% this year, which is also its best year since 2010 when it climbed 84%.

Precious metals rallied on the roller coaster ride in global financial markets and geopolitics. US and China exchanged tit-for-tat retaliatory tariffs and continued to play a game of will-they-or-wont-they on a trade agreement. Another important trade pact – the USMCA – was also in doubt for much of 2019. Despite reporting record gains, there was quite a bit of volatility in the leading domestic stock indexes over the last 12 months.

The Federal Reserve cutting interest rates and other central banks following suit contributed to gold’s ascent. Gold is generally bullish in a low-rate environment since it lowers the opportunity cost and sends investors into zero yield-bearing assets. The Fed has signaled that it does not plan to reduce rates in 2020 unless the economy calls for it, but it is continuing to expand its balance sheet, bailout repo markets, and unleash the fourth round of quantitative easing.

In the Middle East, there are plenty of tensions that are fueling investor consternation. Just this week, traders are keeping an eye on Baghdad where protesters are surrounding a US embassy.

Contrary to historical patterns, the US dollar and gold rallied simultaneously throughout most of the year. However, the greenback pared most of its gains after peaking in September at 3%. On Tuesday, the US Dollar Index tumbled 0.36% to 96.39, from an opening of 96.73, and will only pick up an annual boost of 0.2%. A weaker buck is good for dollar-denominated commodities because it makes it cheaper for foreign investors to purchase.

The consensus on Wall Street is that gold will likely advance in 2020, but not to the extent in 2019. With greater trade certainty, Fed policy penciled into markets, and another market rally expected, gold and silver prices might post single-digit gains.

In other metal markets, February copper futures fell $0.0355, or 1.25%, to $2.80 a pound. March platinum futures surged $15.60, or 1.62%, to 981.00 per ounce. March palladium futures spiked $29.20, or 1.49%, to $1,908.50 an ounce.

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