Gold had a sharp drop on Friday, December 4th. It was down more than 5% at one point, but closed at $1161.40, off its low. Gold was overbought on both the daily, weekly, and by one measure even on the monthly charts. It needed some pressure taking off after rallying almost every day and hitting one all-time high after another in November. While the bears are coming out of the woodwork and claiming the gold rally is over (as many have claimed was imminent for several months now), there is merely a needed technical correction taking place. The gold charts are so bullish that it would take a lot more selling before the technical picture became damaged. While gold is selling down, the U.S. dollar is not surprisingly rallying since they tend to move in opposite directions. As is the case with gold, it will require a lot more than a few days to change the technical picture of the dollar.
Almost the entire drop in gold prices on the 4th took place during New York trading. What supposedly set off the drop was the U.S jobs report for November, which had much better numbers than expected. While even a cursory analysis of the report indicates that the picture is not so rosy - large numbers of part-time positions suddenly appeared out of nowhere and retailers cut employment during the height of the holiday selling season - the mainstream U.S. media trumpeted the 'good' news, while ignoring the inconvenient facts.
Talk of possible sooner than expected Fed rate hikes was cited as the cause of the selling in the precious metals and the rally in the dollar. A Fed rate hike would damage U.S. stocks a lot more than gold, but stocks rallied strongly on the jobs news. So much for that theory. The price of gold is related closely to inflation and future U.S. inflation is already baked in the cake because of all the money printing the Federal Reserve has been doing. It will take years before all the inflation damage from the current bout of easy and fake money fully manifests itself.
It will also take years before the Credit Crisis money-printing operations are finished damaging the U.S. dollar. That doesn't mean it will go down every day in the interim, just like gold won't go up every day. The trade-weighted dollar has been selling off since March. It has been trading continually below its falling 50-day moving average since April. It managed to peak above the 50-day once in early November. December 4th was the first day it managed to close above it in more than seven months. To return to rally mode, the dollar would have to stay above the 50-day, rally to its 200-day moving average (well above its current level), stay above the 200-day then the 50-day would have to cross the 200-day. This would require two or three months minimally and around six months would be more likely - assuming that it is going to happen. That assumption as of now is based on one day's trading activity indicating a change in an eight month trend.
Dollar rallies in the last several months tend to be concentrated in only one or two currencies in the trade-weighted basket, indicating a helping hand from the respective central banks. The last rally in early November was based on a strong move down in the euro and Canadian dollar. The weak British pound actually went up during that time. This dollar rally has been more concentrated in the Japanese yen and Bank of Japan intervention should be assumed. The falling dollar is a risk to major exporting countries and they want to drive their currencies down versus the dollar. U.S. authorities seem quite complacent about the falling dollar however because they believe it will increase U.S. exports. Without macro policy changes such as significantly higher interest rates (that would be well above the current zero level in the U.S and a quarter, half or even a whole point rise wouldn't do it), central bank intervention to alter currency relationships gets undone pretty quickly.
The technical picture in gold is not fully resolved yet. A little more selling will be necessary. This can be mixed in with a lot of volatility. The intermediate picture is still up for gold and the other precious metals. So far, this looks like a mid-rally correction. The correction is merely taking place a lot faster than is usual. As of now, the most probable peak for the current gold rally is still in the March to May 2010 time frame.
Disclosure: Long gold and silver.
This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.
The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. We have coined this term to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government, which involve unprecedented money printing. This is the official blog of the New York Investing meetup.