Return of Chinese buyers from New Year holiday to rally gold as central banks buy most in 50 years

Friday, February 15, 2013
By Paul Martin

By: Peter Cooper
Friday, 15 February 2013

Bearish noises in the gold pit have lowered prices again this week but the real reason for the price fall is the absence of the world’s most voracious buyers, the Chinese who are on a national holiday this week for their New Year, though they have been buying in the gold souks of Dubai instead.

Global central banks bought more gold last year than at any time in the past 50 years, according to figures published yesterday by the World Gold Council. They added 535 tons to reserves, 17 per cent more than in 2011. Gold prices rose for a 12th successive year.

Gold bears

The bear argument against gold is that economic growth is picking up in the US and China and will divert investment into stocks and away from disaster insurance like gold. That can only really stack up if you believe economic growth is actually about to accelerate.

Unexpectedly GDP in the US did not grow at all in Q4 and recent Chinese trade data is a fiction according to many Asian economists. Besides if the world economy does grow a bit faster this year it will be entirely down to money printing by the global central banks who continue to hedge their own inflation risk with gold.

Individuals are likely to do the same and hedge funds could quickly switch back to being bullion positive. Our local ‘Mr. Gold’ in Dubai thinks the gold price will bottom at current levels and not test the $1,500 an ounce level that chartists have as a potential floor.

Chinese liquidity coming back into the bullion market is probably all it takes. China is the biggest global gold consumer and overtook India sometime last year. They always love to snap up a bargain and with gold on sale should be back with a bang from their holidays.

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