Gold futures extended their decline further Wednesday, falling for an eighth day in the last nine, as U.S. invesment bank Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) cut its gold price forecasts for this year and next amid the recovery of the U.S. economy.
In floor trade Wednesday, gold for April delivery was lately down $11.90 to $1,592.30 an ounce, below the $1,600 an ounce level. On Tuesday, the precious metal fell $5.30, or 0.3%, to settle at $1,604.20 an ounce.
The Fed's minutes for the latest policy meeting will be released later this afternoon, and analysts say that gold may decline further if the minutes show the central bank discussed whether quantitative easing may either stop or slow well before the end of the year.
Gold has been weak since the start of the year and hit a six-month low last week on fears that the U.S. may curtail its monetary easing policy as the economy picks up.
Indeed, gold prices have been dropping as real interest rates are on the rise as the crisis ends, and as volatility is on the decline. The yellow metal benefits when investors are looking for stable and risk-free assets, and the fading of the economic crisis has dulled gold's safe haven appeal.
Goldman believes this trend will continue, with 2013 proving to be an inflection point for the gold price as U.S. real interest rates increase alongside an accelerating U.S. recovery in the second half of the year.
The broker trimmed its gold price forecasts for 2013 and 2014 by 5% and 4%, respectively, to US$1,787 and US$1,744 an ounce.
The broker’s longer term forecast was cut by 15% to US$1,200 an ounce.
Goldman said its forecasts assume physical gold demand from exchange traded funds (ETFs) and central banks will grow in 2013 at the 2009-2012 pace, with ETF purchases slowing in 2014.
This demand for gold should slow the forecast decline in prices over the coming years, though a risk is that a decline in the gold price could prompt a sharp decline in ETF gold holdings, in turn precipitating a further fall in the gold price.
Potential short-term catalysts for a rise in the gold price include the ongoing issue of the U.S. debt ceiling, Japan’s push to increase in inflation and possible changes to India’s import tax, said Goldman.
Toronto's main market, which is heavily weighted toward commodities, opened lower Wednesday on the sharp decline in gold, with metals and mining and materials dragging down the index.
Yamana Gold (TSE:YRI) and Iamgold (TSE:IMG) retreated 2.4% and 1.6%, respectively, ahead of the companies reporting their quarterly results after the closing bell today.