Gold prices could perform well regardless of who wins the upcoming presidential election, analysts say, pointing to low-interest-rate policy and potential pandemic-related stimulus.
"While there are many arguments over who will be the next U.S. president, one thing most analysts appear to agree on is that the price of gold will be higher no matter who is in office," Haywood Securities analysts said in an Oct. 23 research note.
Gold has been on the rise in 2020, catching widespread attention as it rallied to a record-breaking $2,000 per ounce earlier this year. Though the gold price has since pulled back to around $1,900/oz, it has remained at historically high levels amid low to negative interest rates and economic uncertainty related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Making a bull case, Haywood analysts pointed to a "fragile" U.S. economy and ongoing central bank "money printing" to lift expectations for inflation and put pressure on the U.S. dollar. With that in mind, they suggested investors buy dips in both silver and gold equities.
UBS analysts took a similar view in a recent note outlining their thoughts on factors supporting gold and how it may trade into 2021. One clear driver has been investment demand, the analysts said, with cash flowing to both bars and coins, as well as exchange-traded funds, or ETFs.
"In [the first half of 2020], investment demand for gold, which consists of demand for bars and coins and inflows into gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs), accounted for nearly 56% of total demand," the analysts said in an Oct. 23 note. "This ranks as the highest level over the last two decades and exceeds the previous record of nearly 46% in 2009."
The analysts pointed to some of the usual suspects underpinning gold's rise, including falling U.S. real interest rates, market volatility and a weak U.S. dollar. Looking at ETF investment figures, UBS said North American investors have dominated demand, accounting for 65% of inflows in the first half of the year.
Still, since the first half of 2020, buying has slowed, the analysts said. "So to see gold rising from current levels, we think further investment-related demand is needed," they said.
UBS analysts also said they see further inflows should the pandemic cause more economic uncertainty and the U.S. stimulate the economy through a significant fiscal package, bumping up inflation while the Federal Reserve holds rates low.
Making a gold price projection, Bloomberg analyst Mike McGlone said in an Oct. 26 note he saw gold breaking out of its recent trading range at around $1,900/oz.
"The gold spring is likely to uncoil soon and the path of least resistance remains upward, in our view," he said, noting he expected gold to climb to around $2,000/oz. "Approaching the narrowest 50-day Bollinger Band since June indicates the metal's consolidation period is nearing an end."
Meanwhile, gold's rise in 2020 has helped support the exploration sector and is also expected to boost mining equities as third-quarter results come in. S&P Global Market Intelligence analyst Christopher Galbraith noted that, while exploration budgets have dropped for most metals, gold exploration budgets have been relatively stable with a 1% year-over-year increase to $4.34 billion expected in 2020. Gold exploration eked out the modest gain despite pandemic related lockdowns that curbed activity earlier in the year.
"These strong indicators for near-term gold exploration, coupled with a still-strong gold price that is likely to set a new floor above estimated reserves prices, support the likelihood of continued strong gold exploration in 2021," Galbraith said.