December Fed Looming, Gold Stands at an important inflection point

Two posts ago, on November 16th, Gold Returns to Critical lows below 1100, I wrote the following.


So now, gold has found some buying around 1073, but has shown a lot of difficulty picking up any steam to push it towards 1100. This is an incredibly significant battle that the longs and shorts will fight out in this range. 40 dollars higher gold looks like a commodity that is finding real support and an ability to hold up dramatically well amidst all of the worlds commodity selling. 25 lower makes gold look very unattractive.


A month later, this still holds true. Despite a temporary move down to 1045, we are more or less in a range. Broadly speaking, that range has been 1060-1080. I think the levels, at least on the upside are becoming a bit clearer, and we can begin to focus on critical price points in anticipation of this week’s Fed. 


You might expect I would show a short term chart to discuss these levels, but I believe they apply to much bigger levels. So, let’s look at my favorite chart in gold because it tells so much; the three year daily.





The slow moving downward channel gold has been in for years is crystal clear on this chart. 

What I will mention from here on out about this chart is not technical analysis; it is just gold analysis. Even if you have never looked at a chart before, you can see that gold has demonstrated certain clear price pattern characteristics when approaching the extremities within the range.


Notice the very first low in July of 2013. That was the establishment of the lower line of this channel. How long did it spend there? Not long. It quickly rallied up to the top of the channel. Then revisiting this new down channel in December 2014 it rallied relatively quickly to the top of the channel. You can see how this pattern continues throughout the years.


Why is this so important?


Look at where gold is now. It is hovering at the bottom of this lower line. The last time it hung out on the line was this summer after the overnight 50 dollar drop to 1080. It consolidated before rallying nearly 100 dollars. Could we be seeing something similar here? My major takeaway from this chart (which is why I always come back to it for reference) is the speed at which gold rallies off of the lows. It is one of the reasons one might understandably adopt a strong bullish stance. In the last few years, betting on rallies off of the lows of this line have proven to be very profitable.


I will come up with the next argument for the bulls in a few, but there is also a way to see the above chart in a critically bearish light. 


Forget lines on a chart for a second and think about what it means when consolidation occurs at a certain price level.


Consolidation takes place at levels where buyers or sellers at a given point in time don’t strongly outmatch the other. There is some buying and some selling, but not enough to push a market heavily in either direction. Over time however, when either the buyers or sellers throw up the white flag, the interest on one side of the market gets cleared out. This allows for a potentially accelerated move once the consolidation has commenced.


If you take a look back at the chart above, gold is consolidating along that lower trendline. Last time it did this it rallied 100 dollars in less than 2 months. So what is potentially bearish? The Speed at which gold sold back off  to here following that rally.


Below I am going to reinsert the same chart above.


Now focus on the lower trendlie. Notice that following December 2013, gold did not interact with this line again until a full year later. In July (only 7 months after gold revisited in November 2014) gold came back retesting the 1080 area. The latest consolidation that gold has been experiencing began in November, and has continued to consolidate for longer than at any previous time gold traded along the line.



There are two elements of this price action on the longer term chart that signal the potential for a strong down move. First, the time intervals that gold is interacting with the bottom of the downtrend are shortening. The return more quickly to this support line shows that rallies are fading more quickly across the time frame you see above. Thus while the market has clearly shown strong buying off of this level, the bull party seems to be ending more quickly.


If Wednesday’s Fed decision leads to a break of this line on the downside, I think it opens the door for at least 100 dollars in downside. I would consider a break of 1055 as a true break of this line. The longer a line has held as support, the more likely a break of that support is to lead to swift down move. In the case of gold, a break of support would be confirmation that years of efforts to rally have failed.


Finally, I’d like to focus the other line you see above. Below is gold for the last 10 months or so.


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This line you see slices down the middle of the down channel we have been looking at. Notice how the line served as resistance in May and June. You can see how precisely this line served to stand as resistance over the course of the last 8 months. The break above the line led to an accelerated move higher; and soon after, an accelerated down move back to the line. Now, as you can see, gold is consolidating below this line. The last time gold broke above the line in early October, it rallied 60 dollars rather quickly. While chartists might deny the validity of this line, I have more reasons for focusing on it. I have noticed that options demand begins to flip (calls get bid above it, puts get bid below) as gold’s price relative to the line changes. Markets are not science. There are clearly others in this market who use this line as a guide for future price, and that is enough to command our attention.



It is rare you get a chance to see so many of the price patterns and trends converge at critical points simultaneously. Right now, as I have tried to convey in this post, gold sits in the middle of some very significant cross currents. It is probably not a coincidence that these cross currents are meeting head on in front of the big December Fed announcement. As it stands there is a greater than 70% chance according to markets that the Fed will raise. So, gold finds itself at a major decision point as markets approach the event (potential rate rise) the markets have been waiting for for years. A break higher opens the potential for a yearly close in the 1180-1200 range where gold has spent so much of its time. A break lower opens up the door for new multi year lows. Even if there is not a big move on Wednesday, there will be potential for big moves in the coming days and weeks. Big events like this tend to exhaust either buyers or sellers. Even if the move is not immediate, the potential for 50+ dollar moves over a 1-2 day period will increase at such a point of buying and selling cross currents.


Wishing everyone good luck this week; I will try to write next weekend and discuss the events of the coming week.


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