Gold lost its shine for investors and central banks in the third quarter, the World Gold Council (WGC) said in its latest report, as the coronavirus pandemic weighed on global interest in the precious metal.
Demand for gold slipped by 10 percent from the beginning of the year and plunged to 892.3 tons in the period July-September, according to the WGC data. This is the lowest quarterly total since 2009, the report states, explaining the decline by the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on investors and consumers.
Meanwhile, central banks have started to tap their gold stockpiles as governments are trying to offset the impact of the virus. Net sales, primarily driven by Uzbekistan and Turkey, amounted to 12 tons over the third quarter, marking the first such move since 2010, according to the WGC. The banks are still expected to resume gold buying before the end of the year, but at a slower pace than in 2018 and 2019.
“Uncertainty has been elevated by the pandemic, motivating many investors – including central banks – to seek assets that will diversify and protect the value of their portfolios in times of crisis,” the report says. According to a leading analyst at the WGC, Louise Street, the selling came from banks attempting to benefit from the high gold price “at a time when they are fiscally stretched.”
However, investment demand helped to outweigh weakness elsewhere, she noted, adding that this helped to push gold prices to record highs earlier this year. In August, gold bullion hit its historic high of above $2,075 an ounce. It subsequently lost some of the gains, slipping to the current levels of below $1,900 per ounce on Comex.
Bar and coin investment demand jumped by nearly 50 percent year-on-year to 222.1 tons in the third quarter. Another investment instrument, gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs), also saw a quarterly inflow. They took global holdings of gold-backed ETFs to a new record of 3,880 tons.
“It was equally encouraging to see gold’s role as a safe-haven for retail investors shine through this quarter, as people continue to seek stability in volatile markets,” Street said.
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