The gold market is trying to find its footing after seeing a significant slide in recent days. Since hitting nearly $1265 per ounce at the end of February, the gold market went into a tailspin, losing significant ground in the process. The market traded lower for several consecutive sessions before finding some more buyers around the $1200 level.
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor and Statistics reported that the U.S. added 235,000 jobs in February while the unemployment rate dipped slightly lower to 4.7 percent. The 235k figure was well above consensus estimates of 200,000. There was also an upward revision to January’s figures.
This strong jobs report has essentially sealed the deal for an interest rate hike from the Fed when it meets later this week. Although a hike this week appeared to already be a foregone conclusion, this jobs data should erase any shred of doubt.
How the gold market will react remains unclear.
The gold market likely did not price in a March rate hike from the central bank, and that is almost certainly a major factor in gold’s recent downside.
With a significant amount of hawkish rhetoric coming from various Fed officials, investors will pay close attention to the Fed announcement on monetary policy.
The Fed recently indicated that it had penciled in three rate hikes this year. Market participants seemed to have their doubts, and this really came as no surprise given the central bank’s reluctance to raise rates last year.
Now the question doesn’t seem to be whether or not the Fed will hike rates three times this year. A better question may now be whether or not the Fed will have to hike four times.
If the Fed is in fact behind the curve, it could catch markets off-guard. Although gold may see further selling on more aggressive monetary policy, stocks could also potentially see some significant selling pressure. If equities were to enter correction or bear market territory, capital could flow out of equities and into alternative assets like gold.
Of course, any policy implementation-or lack thereof-by the Trump administration could also potentially factor into the equation. If investors are left disappointed in any fiscal spending package or if such measures are not started in a timely fashion, selling in equity markets could potentially get under way.
Any major controversies surrounding the Trump administration could also potentially factor into the Fed’s plans as such issues could send markets and risk appetite sharply lower.
For the time being, the gold market does not seem to have a lot working in its favor. Interest rates are on the rise, the dollar index is moving back towards previous highs and stocks remain strong. Risk appetite and economic optimism are running high. Thus far, there are no signs of stocks and risk assets reversing course.
In the absence of any fresh, bullish catalyst, the gold market could see ongoing price pressure. The coming weeks could, however, provide some significant buying opportunities for the long-term gold investor.