Uncertainty surrounding the Trump Administration and speculation that the president may not be able to accomplish tax reform, one of the centerpieces of his campaign, are among the factors fueling political uncertainty in the nation’s capitol.
That uncertainty is benefiting gold and the related exchange traded products, such as the iShares Gold Trust (NYSEArca: IAU). The ongoing political drama in the U.S. has also weighed on the U.S. dollar, which helped support the gold outlook. With traders remaining skeptical that this week’s Federal Reserve meeting would do much to alter the recent weakness, gold has maintained its recent strength.
“Gold is most correlated with real interest rates (in other words, the interest rate after inflation), not nominal rates or inflation. While real rates rose sharply during the back half of 2016, the trend came to an abrupt halt in early 2017. U.S.10-year real rates ended July exactly where they began the year, at 0.47%. The plateauing in real yields has taken pressure off of gold, which struggled in the post-election euphoria,” according to a BlackRock note.
The good news for gold ETFs is that inflation could serve as a catalyst for the yellow metal. Rising inflation could also prove to be a catalyst for gold ETFs. By some metrics, the Fed has under-estimated U.S. inflation, which could prove beneficial to gold because the yellow metal is historically a popular inflation fighter.
While investment demand for gold-related ETFs has diminished in 2017, holdings continue to grow, adding 56 metric tons in the second quarter, which brought total inflows over the first half of the year to 168 metric tons, with most of the increase coming out of European ETFs as holdings reached a record 978 metric tons. The heightened demand out of Europe may be associated with a spike in political risk amidst a year of contentious elections on a wave of rising populism and the ongoing Brexit negotiations.
“Using the past 20 years of monthly data, policy uncertainty, as measured by the U.S. Economic Policy Uncertainty Index, has had a more statistically significant relationship with gold prices than financial market volatility. In fact, even after accounting for market volatility, policy uncertainty tends to drive gold prices,” according to BlackRock.