Trader expectations for gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) are the most bullish they have been since December 9, 2011. According to a Bloomberg survey, 10 of 22 traders expect gold to rise next week. 5 traders were neutral.
Although this isn't wildly bullish, sentiment is shifting to provide support for gold prices. Moreover, if sentiment were extremely bullish, it could indicate an intermediate top, so today's mixed forecast is welcome.
Kitco ran a similar survey and uncovered a more subdued outlook for gold. Of 24 analysts surveyed, 8 were bullish and 9 were bearish on prices for next week.
According to 44 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, gold prices could rise to $2,140 this year. Similarly, the London Bullion Market Association's survey of market forecasters pegged 2012 average gold prices at $1,766. (The same survey forecast silver (NYSEARCA:SLV) to average $33.98 an ounce in 2012.)
Recently, gold has been trading like a leveraged inverse play on the US dollar. As liquidity around the world dries up, the demand for US dollars rises as positions are sold, margin calls met and US treasuries purchased. This puts pressure on all assets, including gold. Fear over a worsening situation in Europe has left many traders cautious about gold prices, and the 200 day moving average - which has capped gold's gains since December 14 - remains a point of resistance.
A catalyst for improved gold performance could be the central bank reaction to the very crisis that is containing gold's price. A worsening global economy could eventually force the Fed's hand, leading to QE3. A review of the 2008 playbook for gold would be prudent for investors evaluating their positions.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
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