There is no shortage of cash rich investors in Asia, even amidst the current troubles in Dubai. Indeed, sentiment in the gemstones market is particularly upbeat, with a rare five-carat pink diamond selling for a record HK$84.24 million in Hong Kong. Perhaps this is a good reflection of abundant liquidity and of course wealth in Asia, and in particular China, with talk that mainland Chinese investors were strong participants in the diamond auction.
It's not just diamonds that are selling for record prices; gold hit a fresh high above $1,200 and, once again, at least part of this is attributable to the appetite of Asian central banks as well as demand from China, as the country tries to increase its gold reserves. The rise in gold prices has coincided with a bullish announcement from the world’s top gold producer that it has completely eliminated its market hedges earlier than forecast due to the positive outlook on prices and waning supply.
The correlation between gold prices and the USD remains very strong at -0.88 over the last 3-months, with firmer gold prices, implying further USD weakness. In fact, the gold / USD correlation has been consistently strong over the past few months and is showing little sign of diminishing.
Over the past 6-months the correlation has been -0.91 and over the past 1-month it was -0.75. Assuming that anything above 0.70 can be considered statistically significant, the relationship shows that USD weakness has been well correlated with gold strength and that despite talk of a breakdown in the relationship it appears to remain solid.
As long as the bullish trend in gold continues, the pressure on the USD will remain in place. Adding to this pressure is the fact that risk is back on for now. Markets took the news of a fall in the ISM manufacturing index and in particular the drop in the employment component in its stride even though it supports the view of a weaker than consensus drop in payrolls in November when it is published on Friday.
There are still plenty of reasons to be cautious in the weeks ahead and although we appear to be back in a “risk on” environment markets are likely to gyrate between “risk on” and “risk off” over coming weeks. At least for now, the USD looks to remain under pressure but if risk aversion creeps back up as I suspect it may then the USD will see a bit more resilience into year end.
Moreover, central banks globally are reaching the limits of their tolerance of USD weakness and will be tested once again, with EUR/USD back above 1.5000, EUR/CHF moving back below 1.5100 and the USD/JPY set to re-test 85.00 following the relatively benign measures announced by the BoJ in which the Bank did little to stem deflationary pressure or weaken the JPY.
Disclosure: No positions