Business

Golden year for precious metals sparked by global economic concerns

Gold prices are set for their strongest annual increase since 2010, as worries over global economic health triggered a surge of interest in precious metals, while palladium soared more than 50 per cent to record highs thanks to a supply shortage.

Silver and platinum, which like gold are often seen as safe investments in uncertain times, also saw their largest annual gains in several years.

Many analysts said prices are likely to rise further this year, with shaky growth and stock markets potentially looking unsustainable at record highs.

Central banks are also buying more gold and have flipped from tightening to loosening monetary policy, pushing interest rates and bond yields down and making non-yielding precious metals more attractive to investors.

"An environment of low rates, persistent macro uncertainty and elevated equities makes a case for holding gold as a hedge.

"This view could likely drive demand for gold higher into 2020 and lend support to the current medium-term uptrend," said AxiTrader market strategist Stephen Innes.

While the US and China cooled their trade war last month, several issues remain unresolved and gold should perform well if dollar weakness plays out this year, he added.

Spot gold was up more than 18 per cent last year and at US$1,519.41 (S$2050) an ounce is pushing back towards a six-year high of US$1,557 reached in early September.

Spot silver, rising in gold's wake, was up 15 per cent last year at US$17.85 an ounce, its strongest performance since 2016. Platinum at US$962.50 an ounce was 21.6 per cent higher last year, its biggest rise since 2009.

But palladium continued to stand out, soaring more than US$700 an ounce in 2019 in its fourth consecutive annual gain. It touched a record high of US$1,998.43 an ounce on Dec 17. - REUTERS

BUSINESS & FINANCE