Gold likely to touch record highs this year

Gold likely to touch record highs this year

London: Gold prices could set new record highs above $1,030 (around Rs49,000) an ounce in 2009 as investors flock to the precious metal as a hedge against future inflation and a weaker dollar, according to a leading fund manager.

Investec Global Gold Fund’s portfolio manager Daniel Sacks said a combination of safe-haven buying of gold as an alternative to paper currencies, inflation, and a dearth of fresh mine supply in response to rising prices are set to boost bullion this year.

“We believe gold will continue to perform well in 2009 against most assets and, in US dollar terms, should attempt a breach of the 2008 highs of $1,030 an ounce," he said.

The precious metal hit that level in March last year as a sharp slip in the dollar fuelled hefty gains. Dollar weakness tends to push investors towards hard assets, such as gold.

While its 2008 high was a nominal record, in inflation adjusted terms the precious metal still has scope to rise before reaching the highs it hit in the early 1980s, Sachs said.

“The price of gold is still just half of its prior peak in ‘real’ terms, even after the rally of the past eight years," he said. “We see much more upside than downside risk for bullion."

Sacks said a host of factors, including ongoing dollar devaluation, diversification of reserve currency holdings, fresh fund appetite for assets such as commodities and inflation fears, could combine to support gold.

“In almost all but a global soft-landing scenario, gold is likely to rally, in our view," he said. “With a global recovery unlikely to be smooth, the two main risks to most asset values are inflation and the US dollar—both of which are decisively gold positive."

Sacks’ Investec Global Gold Fund, which was founded in 1990, has $208 million in assets under management, and invests primarily in gold mining equities.

Gold has rallied in recent weeks as dollar weakness boosted investment in hard assets, hitting a two-month high of $971.25 an ounce late last week.