Gold’s performance in the weeks since Covid-19 became a pandemic has been anything but stellar. Prices were volatile, briefly turning lower for the year before climbing to their highest level since late 2012.
The precious metal has been torn between its potential as a haven investment and a mad scramble to sell the tangible asset in a bid for cash to cover losses in the stock market.
“The Covid-19 outbreak has had a major impact on the gold market, bringing massive price swings as investors react to new developments related to the pandemic,” says Steven Dunn, head of exchange-traded funds at Aberdeen Standard Investments.
“Because of Covid-19, refiners were knocked offline…and the ability to move gold became a challenge as normal means of transport became almost impossible,” he says.
The World Health Organization officially declared Covid-19 a pandemic on March 11, but gold prices didn’t immediately rally as many expected, even as the hit to the global economy became apparent with the closure of schools and businesses around the world.
Gold futures settled at $1,477.90 an ounce on March 18, their lowest finish year to date, before eventually moving up to an intraday high of $1,754.50 on April 9—the highest intraday mark since November 2012.
“Gold usually goes through a shakeout of weak hands before hitting new highs,” says Jeb Handwerger, editor of Gold Stock Trades, which tracks the junior mining exploration and development sector, referring to futures traders who don’t intend to take delivery of the underlying commodity.
Year to date as of April 9, however, gold is up more than 15%, versus a more than 14% decline in the S&P 500.
“Gold is breaking out into new all-time highs against most currencies except the U.S. dollar, which is the strongest fiat currency left,” says Handwerger.
After settling at $1,752.80 on April 9, prices now trade at about $171 an ounce away from the all-time intraday high of $1,923.70 on Sept. 6, 2011.
“A hold above $1,700 would be very constructive in terms of giving [gold] a boost up to the all-time highs,” but it will “take time” for the metal to reach those levels, says Adam Koos, president of Libertas Wealth Management Group.
“If the aftershock of the Covid-19 virus is a much deeper, wider iceberg under the surface of the economy, then I think we could see an acceleration in buying pressure” on gold, he says.