The gold market is quiet on Wednesday as the bulls continue to take a breather following recent upside. Some stronger-than-expected economic data is also weighing on gold a bit today as the metal declines by less than $2 per ounce in mid-morning trade. The gold market dipped immediately following the release of the latest retail sales data for October, which came in above expectations. Not only was the October figure better-than-expected, but the September print was also revised higher. The stronger data may lead investors to assume that the Fed is unlikely to begin lowering interest rates any time soon, and that may be bearish for gold.
Inflation and Interest Rates: Crucial Factors Shaping the Future of the Gold Market
The economic data stream and inflation data will both be very important for gold in the months ahead. The Federal Reserve has already elected to leave rates as is rather than raise them again, for the time being anyway. That could change quickly, however, if the data stream shows a lot of strength or if inflation begins to increase again from already-high levels. The Fed has been successful in taking inflation a bit in recent months, as price pressures have eased from levels seen last year. That being said, the levels at which inflation remains are still way too high and far above the Fed’s desired target of 2% annualized. The Fed has made it clear it is quite comfortable leaving interest rates at or near current levels for longer than expected. The “higher for longer” mentality has gained traction among financial experts in recent months and may very well be the way the Fed finally gets inflation under control again.
Global Wars and Geopolitical Tensions Heighten Gold’s Safe-Haven Appeal
The gold market will not only pay close attention to inflation and interest rates in the months ahead, but it will also pay close attention to the ongoing wars. The Russian/Ukrainian war and the Israeli/Hamas wars rage on with no signs of ending anytime soon. The Russia/Ukraine war is particularly concerning for the world, as talk of nuclear weapons being deployed has been on the rise in recent months. Although use of such weapons may remain extremely unlikely, the mere threat or possibility of them being unleashed may keep a flight to safety bid in financial markets and gold in particular.
Israeli/Hamas Conflict Escalates Amid Concerns of Global Involvement
The war in Israel is now in what could be its deadliest phase as Israeli defense forces penetrate Gaza. This area is filled with civilians and non-combatants, who have already lost basic living necessities such as electricity and water. The lack of internet service in the region will not help either as innocents attempt to escape the violence. The biggest potential global threat in this conflict is if other powers become involved. The U.S. has already warned Iran, for example, to stay out of it. If Iran were to become involved in the conflict, the United States would almost certainly follow suit. The U.S. already has significant firepower in the region, with its largest carrier the U.S.S. Gerald Ford being present in the Mediterranean. Another carrier group has already joined the Ford, and together the two groups could unleash a staggering amount of firepower over inland targets.
Gold Bulls Eyeing $2,000 as Key Technical Level Poses a Challenge
The gold bulls may just be taking their time. The real test of the market will come when or if it challenges the $2,000 level. If the bulls can overtake this key technical level, the upside seen soon thereafter could be significant.
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