Expert Zone

Straight from the Specialists

Gold not a good investment for now

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Since November, the price of gold has been unstable but in April, its decline was precipitated. What is surprising is not the fall itself but its speed. In just two sessions, gold prices dropped 13 percent in the steepest fall in 33 years. It wasn’t gold alone that got caught in the bear grip. Prices of other commodities such as silver, crude oil, copper and so on also declined, but not as sharply.

Why? Simply because the factors that caused commodity prices to rise in the last five years were no longer relevant. Gold was selling at $625 an ounce (860 rupees per gram) only six years back in 2008. That October, the world was plunged into a financial crisis of an unusual magnitude. Since then, there has been a rush for gold as an investment. Stock markets crashed, interest rates plunged, investors lost faith in financial assets and opted for gold as a safe investment.

That presumption was supported by subsequent trends in gold prices. Over the next five years, prices shot up in India as much as 3-1/2 times, making gold not only safe but also the most lucrative investment. The stock market took all that time to recover from the 2008 shock but has not, even now, come up to pre-crisis levels. Gold became a preferred part of the portfolio and gold-backed exchange traded funds (ETFs) were a favourite with investors.

How QE3 changes commodity prices

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

On Sept. 13, the U.S. Fed announced the QE3 program whereby it purchases mortgage-backed securities at $40bn per month with no time limit. It also pushed out guidance on keeping a low funds rate to mid-2015 from late 2014.

Season to be jolly? With 2012 outlook, unlikely

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

It is the season to be jolly and it is also the season for ‘outlook’ views on what the New Year will bring, and that is unlikely to make anyone jolly. There are many possible binary outcomes in 2012 that could move markets and commodities erratically, so the only certainty appears to be ongoing volatile price swings.

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