George Soros says gold is in a bear market. So do a lot of other traders. Yet commodity futures traders think it’s headed higher.
George Soros, the billionaire who two years ago called it the “ultimate asset bubble,” cut 99 percent of his holdings in the first quarter, Securities and Exchange Commission data show. Hedge fund managers John Paulson, Paul Touradji and Eric Mindich also sold bullion this year. While speculators in New York futures are the least bullish (.MMGCNET) in 31 months, the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 44 traders and analysts is for prices to rally as much as 40 percent to $2,140 an ounce in 2012.
Then there are options traders. These are highly leveraged traders. They are bullish.
“Gold became very overbought,” said Charles Morris, who oversees about $2.2 billion of assets at HSBC Global Asset Management in London and cut his bullion holdings to 6 percent at the end of November from 15 percent six months ago. “It will at least consolidate following this almighty rally. When the new bull market arrives, maybe a year or so away from now, then gold will once again prove to be a leading asset.”
What’s the average guy to believe?
Dennis Gartman, the economist and author of the Suffolk, Virginia-based Gartman Letter, said Dec. 13 that traders were witnessing the “death of a bull.” He sold the last of his gold the previous day and said Dec. 23 his outlook was neutral. The “megatrend” in bullion is “in all likelihood near the end of the road,” Markus Mezger, co-founder of Zug, Switzerland-based Tiberius Asset Management AG, which manages about $2.5 billion of assets, said in its 2012 outlook report on Dec. 23.
On the other hand,
“Gold is going to go higher, but it’s not going to go in a straight line,” said Martin Murenbeeld, the 67-year-old chief economist at Toronto-based DundeeWealth Inc., which manages about $100 billion in the Dynamic Mutual Funds. “Gold has given positive returns, but it doesn’t necessarily do it in the way that gives comfort, and that makes people nervous.”
It is still not back to its 1980 level.
Gold’s high in September has yet to exceed previous records when adjusted for inflation. The metal peaked at $850 in 1980, equal to $2,335 today, according to a calculator on the website of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
Then there are central banks.
The drop in gold may spur more buying from central banks, putting a “floor” under prices, said Adrian Day, who manages about $170 million of assets as the president of Adrian Day Asset Management in Annapolis, Maryland. The banks may add 600 tons to reserves next year, the most since at least 1970, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which on Dec. 1 said bullion would reach $1,940 in 12 months.