Wed, Apr 04, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Gold might hit US$1,400 in ‘winnerless’ trade war

CAUSE FOR CONCERN:That the US seems to be engaged in a zero-sum trade war has begun to strike people as something that is bad for everyone, Sprott CEO Rick Rule said


Gold would surge to the highest level in five years if a global trade war breaks out, said Sprott US Holdings Inc chief executive officer Rick Rule, who has been involved in the market for four decades.

Bullion could top US$1,400 an ounce this year as escalating trade tensions drive investors to havens and the three-decade bull market in bonds nears an end, said Rule, who is due to speak at a conference in Hong Kong today.

Spot gold yesterday traded at US$1,340 per ounce after three straight quarters of gains, while exchange-traded fund holdings are around the highest in half a decade.

US President Donald Trump has ordered import tariffs on steel and aluminum and sought new restrictions on Chinese investment. Asia’s top economy retaliated by imposing its own levies on Monday, while the US is expected to release this week a new list of Chinese products to be slapped with duties.

A trade war could crimp demand for US assets just as the budget deficit swells, with the US dollar vulnerable should international buyers shun US debt.

“In the 40 years I’ve been involved in the gold market, the most important determinant of the gold price has been international confidence in the US dollar and in particular, the US dollar as expressed by the US 10-year Treasury,” Rule said in an interview on Thursday last week.

“The fact that the US seems to be bound to engage in a zero-sum trade war has begun to strike people as something that’s bad for everybody in the world, not just the US. The potential for a winnerless trade war certainly gives cause to some concern,” he said.

The aggregate federal, state and local debt in the US, both on balance sheet and entitlements, relative to levels of savings and investments in the economy, will contribute to worries over the longer-term purchasing power of the US dollar, particularly in view of low yields, Rule said.

Rising income and savings in Asia, a region with a disposition for gold buying, could also lead to more demand, he said.

Sprott US Holdings is a subsidiary of Toronto-based Sprott Inc, which had C$11.5 billion (US$8.9 billion) under management as of Dec. 31 last year.

An easing of the China-US trade row might damp bulls’ enthusiasm. China on Monday urged talks to prevent greater damage to relations, and repeated its position that disputes should be resolved with dialogue.

Also, the biggest US tax overhaul in years signed into law by Trump in December last year would provide more stimulus to the US economy and might curb the effects on the budget deficit.

BNP Paribas SA at the end of February predicted that bullion will probably be lower by the end of the year than the start, with four US Federal Reserve rate hikes expected this year, while IHS Markit sees gold dropping to US$1,200 by the end of the year.

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