Although the gold market ended last week on a positive note, the bulls have their work cut out for them undoing the recent chart damage inflicted on the yellow metal in the aftermath of the surprising Donald Trump election victory in early November.
That being said, the precious metals are showing some signs of bottoming, and thus far the bears have not been able to push prices beyond the recent low prints.
Friday’s Employment Situation Report was not exactly stellar. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that non-farm payrolls saw 178,000 jobs created in November while the unemployment rate ticked lower to 4.6 percent.
October jobs data was revised lower, while September jobs data was revised higher. Of particular note is the downtick in the unemployment rate. While at first glance this figure seems encouraging, it can also be misleading. A decline in the participation rate was reportedly the driver behind the lower rate, not faster job growth.
All things being equal, this latest jobs report will likely keep the Fed on track for an interest rate hike at its next meeting later this month.
Investors may now turn their attention to the pace of future rate hikes from the central bank.
Markets are now pricing in two additional interest rate hikes in 2017, a forecast that could change rapidly if the data stream shows further strength. For the time being, however, the data stream continues to show some mixed signals, and the Fed is likely to stick with a very gradual approach as it looks to normalize monetary policy.
Key markets that can have a direct effect on the gold market including stocks, treasuries and the dollar index have all seen strong moves in the last three weeks. Those moves could, however, be coming to an end, at least in the short-term.
Some analysts have been suggesting that the equity rally has been overblown, and that a pullback in stocks is becoming more likely. Likewise, some believe that the sharp move lower in treasuries has also been overextended, and that a reversal is likely.
Markets have been moving on the notion of stronger economic growth driven by tax cuts and increased government spending. Interest rates have been moving based on the idea that Trump is more of a hawk than a dove, and that his plans are likely to fuel inflation.
At this point, all of this could be considered conjecture, and sentiment among investors has the potential to change quickly if some of the key policies recently discussed are not able to be implemented.
Investors will also not likely forget that much of the world remains engaged in ultra-low rate policies and quantitative easing. Even if the U.S. economy gains further steam, the global economy may remain sluggish and see weak growth for some time to come.
Gold may already be in the process of forming a meaningful bottom, and some analysts have already suggested significantly higher gold prices by the end of the year. Of course, much remains to be seen, but long-term investors are likely to remain focused on the potential benefits of gold ownership and come to the conclusion that many of the reasons for buying gold in recent years still exist today.
Those same investors could then potentially view current gold prices as a substantial bargain, and increasing demand could send the yellow metal higher once again.