The price of gold had risen 4% so far in 2016 when markets opened Monday. Asian stocks external to China slipped to levels not seen since 2011 and crude oil prices fell to under $28 per barrel, the lowest in 12 years. European equities were trading higher and China took further steps to try and ease the downward pressure on the Yuan. U.S. markets were closed for the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday. Gold prices stayed near $1,090 per ounce.
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On Tuesday, gold prices took a slight loss, slipping down to $1,084 per ounce as world stock markets regained strength and crude oil rebounded 5%, while investors took on a riskier attitude. However, weak economic data from China spurred expectations that Chinese stimulus measures could potentially catapult the world economy into another tailspin, lending strength to the safe haven attraction of gold. China’s economy is growing at the slowest rate since 2009, around 6.8%, and total growth for 2015 was the worst in 25 years, at 6.9%.
Normally, this time of the year sees heavy gold buying ahead of the Lunar New Year, but China’s slowing economy has tempered that trend. Meanwhile, in India, sovereign gold bonds went up for sale on Monday with considerable demand; the government is trying to reduce the physical gold in the hands of investors in favor centralized gold buying. The bonds will be tied to India’s central bank gold and sold for 26,000 rupees per 10 grams, below market rate, with an interest rate of 2.75%. This essentially transitions investors from physical gold to “paper” gold.
By Wednesday, the safe haven attraction of gold was in full swing as the Dow Jones fell 500 points, and the Nasdaq and S&P 500 were also down; gold traded around a seven-day high of $1,101. Crude oil fell even further, 7% more, down to below $27 per barrel.
Thursday held gold in a tight trading range as the European Central Bank president Mario Draghi indicated that further easing of monetary policy could occur in March. Meanwhile, Barclays Bank announced it might be liquidating its vault of precious metals and laying off more than a thousand employees. Gold mining output is predicted to drop slightly in 2016. Analysts expect that the Federal Reserve will not institute another rate hike in March. With all these competing factors combined, gold closed out the week only ahead by 0.5% against the previous week.