Gold ETFs have traded in a range for nearly a year but the precious metal still holds appeal for investors as a hedge against inflation or a policy misstep, some market strategists say.
While inflation may seem unlikely in a sluggish U.S. after the financial crisis, “several emerging markets are closer to the edge on this point and their central banks are happy buyers of gold, as are the populations of these countries,” said Nicholas Colas at ConvergEx Group.
Gold ETFs such as SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD), iShares Gold Trust (NYSEArca: IAU) and ETFS Physical Swiss Gold Shares (NYSEArca: SGOL) are trading right at the 200-day exponential moving average.
The bullion ETFs have gained about 5% so far this year although gold prices have been turbulent following the record run over $1,900 an ounce last year. Gold is up 258% over the past decade, Colas said in a note Thursday.
After 2011’s all-time high, gold fans are “losing a bit of their courage with the recent Greek sovereign debt resolutions and a seemingly quiescent, if not exactly zippy, economic outlook in the U.S. and Europe,” the strategist wrote. “But to really give up on gold is the same as saying, ‘I have complete confidence in global policymakers to address and resolve still-lingering economic challenges without the need for further – potentially dramatic – monetary stimulus.’”
The international financial system remains fragile and although Greece’s debt problems may have cooled, “Spain and Portugal wait in the wings.” Another escalation of the European debt crisis or conflict in the Middle East could act as catalysts to push gold higher.