• 12 hours Gold Is Beating Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway
  • 15 hours What’s Behind The Silver Sell-Off?
  • 18 hours The Retail Apocalypse Is Accelerating
  • 21 hours The Top Tech Stocks Of The Year
  • 1 day America’s Workforce Elderly Workforce To Double By 2028
  • 2 days Toyota Tests Solar-Powered Prius
  • 2 days Why The Gold Rally Flatlined
  • 3 days The Uranium Sector Can’t Catch A Break
  • 3 days Upcoming Fed Meeting Has Investors On Edge
  • 4 days Global Gold Sector Outlines Responsible Mining Principles
  • 4 days China’s Giant Vampire Fund Loses $120B
  • 5 days McDonalds To Roll Out Robot Drive-Thru Clerks
  • 5 days Savvy Investors Are Betting Big On This Little Data Company
  • 5 days How The Government Is Wasting Tax Money This Year
  • 6 days Supply Concerns Halt Expansion On Tianqi Lithium Plant
  • 6 days The World’s Biggest IPO Is Almost Here
  • 6 days The Relatively Of Money And Happiness
  • 7 days Wall Street Unfazed By Recession Fears
  • 7 days SoftBank Urges WeWork To Pause IPO Plans
  • 7 days Anti-Aging Market To Hit $55 Billion
Billionaires Are Pushing Art To New Limits

Billionaires Are Pushing Art To New Limits

Welcome to Art Basel: The…

Zombie Foreclosures On The Rise In The U.S.

Zombie Foreclosures On The Rise In The U.S.

During the quarter there were…

The Problem With Modern Monetary Theory

The Problem With Modern Monetary Theory

Modern monetary theory has been…

Arkadiusz Sieron

Arkadiusz Sieron

Writer, Sunshine Profits

Arkadiusz Sieron is a certified Investment Adviser. He is a long-time precious metals market enthusiast, currently a Ph.D. candidate, dissertation on the redistributive effects of…

Contact Author

  1. Home
  2. Markets
  3. Other

Fed's Third Hike and Gold

This time, the U.S. central bank did not make us wait too long for the next hike. Just three months after the hike in December, the Fed moved interest rates up again. Although the pace of the current tightening cycle is extremely gradual, the U.S. central bank is consistently moving away from the zero interest rate policy. The chart below shows the current level of the effective federal funds rate after all three hikes.

Chart 1: The effective federal funds rate after the third Fed hike in a decade.
Effective Fed Funds Rate

What does it mean for the gold market? Well, higher interest rates are believed to be negative for gold prices, as they make non-interest earning assets less attractive. Moreover, the hawkish Fed's stance (although gradual) widens the divergence in monetary policies among major central banks in the world. As one can see in the chart below, the ECB clearly lags behind the Fed in normalizing its monetary policy after the financial crisis. Thus, the Fed's next move should strengthen the U.S. dollar against the euro and weaken the yellow metal.

Chart 2: The Federal Funds rate (green line) and the ECB's main refinancing rate (red line) from 2004 to 2017.
Key Fed's and ECB's Interest Rates

However, as the next chart shows, all three hikes in the current tightening cycle were actually positive for gold.

Chart 3: The price of gold after the Fed hikes in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
Gold Prices after Fed Hikes

Since October 2015, the price of gold was under pressure in anticipation of the Fed's hike. It bottomed out the day after the move and started its amazing rally. In 2016, we saw a replay of the previous year: gold prices were in a downward trend before the anticipated Fed hike in December (the outcome of the U.S. presidential election also contributed to the decline). And again, the yellow metal bottomed out a few days after the FOMC meeting, then rising like a phoenix from the ashes. Also, the third lift was not negative for the gold prices, as the yellow metal replayed the previous scenario: it started to decline at the very end of February, bottomed out on March 15, when the FOMC held its meeting, and jumped upwards thereafter.

Why did gold behave like that in response to the Fed hikes? First, gold investors sold the rumor and bought the fact, preparing for the worst. But each time the U.S. central bank acted less hawkish than expected, it hiked interest rates, but with a dovish message. It turned out each time that gold was oversold, gaining after the FOMC meetings. It suggests that gold may continue its upward move until the Fed surprises markets with a really hawkish message.

Second, the U.S. central bank seems to be behind the curve. As we have repeated many times, the real interest rates are much more important for the gold market than the federal funds rate. The chart below shows that they declined after each hike, which supported gold.

Chart 4: The price of gold (yellow line, left axis, London P.M. Fix) and the U.S. real interest rates (red line, right axis, yields on 10-year Treasury Inflation-Indexed Security) from December 2015 to March 2017.
Gold Prices and Real Interest Rates

In other words, the Fed lifted interest rates in March, but not due to a strong underlying economy (as a reminder, the U.S. central bank did not raise upwards the economic projections in March), due rather to rising inflation. Some investors are worried about inflation moving out of control, so the price of gold rose. In other words, the inflation rate has been accelerating faster than interest rates, so the real interest rates have been declining. And Trump's budget plan was dead on arrival – hence, we will probably not see any fiscal stimulus this year.

Summing up, the Fed raised interest rates for the third time in the current tightening cycle. Because investors sold the rumor and bought the fact, the move made the gold prices jump. The market expects now two more hikes this year: in June and in December. If the Fed adopts a more hawkish stance, gold may struggle. If the U.S. central bank becomes more dovish or remains behind the curve, the yellow metal may shine. However, there may be an uptick in real yields, as the commodity base effects dissipate, dampening the inflation rate. According to some analysts, real rates and the U.S. dollar are too low now, given interest rate expectations, the monetary divergence among central banks, the pace of economic growth and the tightening labor market, so they may move up in the near future, negatively affecting the gold market. On the other hand, the inability of new administration to deliver pro-growth actions (the failure of Trumpcare is a bad harbinger) is an important upside risk for the yellow metal.

Thank you.

 


If you enjoyed the above analysis and would you like to know more about the impact of the current macroeconomic trends and political uncertainty on the gold market, we invite you to read the April Market Overview report. If you're interested in the detailed price analysis and price projections with targets, we invite you to sign up for our Gold & Silver Trading Alerts. If you're not ready to subscribe at this time, we invite you to sign up for our gold newsletter and stay up-to-date with our latest free articles. It's free and you can unsubscribe anytime.

 

Back to homepage

Leave a comment

Leave a comment