Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

New York — Gold futures rose above $1,800/oz for the first time in more than eight years as low interest rates and a resurgence in coronavirus cases drive demand for the metal as a haven.

Bullion for August delivery rose as much as 1.3% to $1,804/oz on Tuesday on the Comex in New York, the highest for a most-active contract since November 2011. The metal posted its best quarter in four years.

With coronavirus cases topping 10-million and still growing, investors are running to gold for insurance against further economic fallout. Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell told US Congress on Tuesday that getting the virus under control is vital. A flare-up in US-China trade frictions is also lending support to the metal, and banks including Goldman Sachs Group forecast more gains.

There’s an “explosion” in demand for gold, said Peter Thomas, a senior vice-president at Chicago-based broker Zaner Group. “The virus concerns, inflation on the back of people’s mind, and the fact that it’s up almost 20% this year” is driving further increases in the metal, he said.

August futures settled at $1,800.50/oz on Tuesday, for a gain of 1.1%. Prices have advanced for three straight sessions. Gold touched all-time highs in September 2011, with futures rising to $1,923.70 and spot metal advancing to $1,921.17.

Investors continue to pile into gold-backed exchange traded funds, with holdings at a record.

New hotspots are emerging, and the World Health Organisation is warning that the worst of the pandemic is still to come because of a lack of global solidarity.

Economy’s fate

“The economy’s fate is inextricably linked to the path of the virus,” New York Fed president John Williams said on Tuesday in remarks prepared for a virtual event hosted by the Institute of International Finance. “A strong economic recovery depends on effective and sustained containment of Covid-19.”

There’s also increased geopolitical tension after Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a landmark national security law for Hong Kong, a sweeping attempt to quell dissent that has already drawn US retaliation and could endanger the city’s appeal as a financial hub. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “deeply concerned” about the move while the Trump administration vowed “strong actions” if Beijing did not reverse course.

Goldman Sachs said gold could climb to a record $2,000/oz over the next 12 months, while JPMorgan Chase recommended investors stick with bullion.

“The Fed is being extremely accommodative and because these shutdowns are starting to recur globally, more central bank measures are probably going to be initiated,” Phil Streible, chief market strategist at Blue Line Futures in Chicago, said.

Bloomberg