Is gold’s “safe haven” status wearing off?
The term “safe haven” is back in the investor lexicon. With stocks off to a brutal start to 2016, gold got some favorable attention for the first time in a while. Up over 50 dollars low to high since the year began, gold has certainly been a beneficiary of some of the chaos in the world. But does that make it a safe haven?
Perhaps, but don’t fall in love with the idea that gold is the thing you buy when stocks are down. The last week or so has shown that a down stock market does not necessarily mean higher gold. Today the February gold futures contract made a high of $1109.9. That is lower than the 1113.1 high that gold made on January 7th. Stocks made a new low today with the S and P making a low of 1804; on January 7th the low in the S&P was around 1930. So 125 handles lower in the S&P later, gold did not make a higher high.
I am aware anyone with a chart can look at that and notice it, but I think it is important to point it out to make sure that we are all looking at the facts with respect to gold’s price action. It is true that gold has generally been up on days stocks have sold off, but at least for the greater part the last two weeks, one would be hard pressed to argue that gold performed well for investors during this period of struggle for stocks. Cash would’ve done just as well.
As some of you who have read my writing before know, I often like to focus on the identity that gold is being given at different points in time. This lack of continued inverse correlation between gold and stocks makes the safe haven label hard for the metal to maintain. Perhaps a lack of general demand means that it should get sold, but that isn’t obvious either. If stocks recover, it doesn’t necessarily have to go down, but a strong rally in stocks would likely put some short term pressure on gold.
If you really want to know what makes gold move take a look at the yen.
90 Day hourly Gold and Yen
The purple line is the Yen, the green and red is gold. You can see that the general patterns of these two have been very close. The yen ran into some strong selling this morning when stocks were selling off, and perhaps that is what helped keep gold in check today. Whatever the case may be, the burden of proof for gold bulls looms large. If gold is simply pausing in the midst of a longer term move upward, I would expect it to retest 1075-1080. Below there it starts to look ugly, above that it looks like gold is consolidating above the lows which will reinforce 1080 as the critical level of support. Keep in mind 1080 was the low of the overnight crash last July. Funny how the same numbers seem to pop up in gold all the time.
One thing I can say from speaking with traders I know is that no one has gotten it completely right the last few weeks. The price action has been choppy across asset classes. Sometimes, following all this volatility (at least in stocks) it is easy to get caught up in the hype and look for the next opportunity to score big. I personally am taking a neutral stance for the time being. I like to put trades on when there is a clear reason that makes sense to me. Right now, I see gold in the middle of a range from 1080-1110 lets call it. It is sitting right on a major number (1100). A very similar range was carved out 100 higher (1180-1220). Those who traded that dreaded market will remember gold’s love of chopping up all the speculators who bothered to participate. Even if gold is a huge buy or sale, I’d rather miss the first 20 dollars and put trades on when and where there is more reason to have some conviction.
I will write more as more clues become available to us. Gold has certainly run into some resistance here, so I wouldn’t be in a rush to get long. If you want to put a short trade on here, I think you can do so while keeping a reasonably tight stop. In order to make the risk reward worth it, I think you’d have to be looking for at least 1060 on the downside. But if the last few weeks have left you a bit out of breath, follow me and take a few days to and see what develops.