Solar, EV Demand for Silver Will Drive Prices to High Triple Digits

Solar, EV Demand for Silver Will Drive Prices to High Triple Digits

Out of all the possible drivers that could push silver up into the sky, Keith Neumeyer, CEO of First Majestic Silver, thinks governmental policies might just be the thing. But instead of loose fiscal ones, it’s the tightening grip on gasoline vehicles that’s shaping up to be a massive driver. In an interview with Kitco, the CEO spoke about the changes in the automotive industry that are taking place, driven partially if not wholly by governments favoring electric vehicles (EVs) over carbon-dioxide-spewing internal combustion engines.

The view that engines of the latter are polluting the environment might have opposing sides in general terms, but it has swept governments around the world by storm. With countries like the U.S. and U.K. already preparing to ban sales of traditional vehicles, it does appear that an automotive revolution is underway. And it just so happens to be one that will heavily favor silver.

Neumeyer has always been extremely bullish on the metal, having previously forecast that it could hit triple digits in the long-term. Now, he sees silver going towards the higher end of that triple digit range due to basic supply and demand dynamics. Silver’s supply picture has always been a lackluster one, with the metal mostly coming in as a byproduct of mining other metals (copper, lead and zinc primarily). Only 28% of silver mines primarily produce silver. This means that silver miners are slower to respond to rises in spot price. They have to consider the costs and value of the other metals they’re digging up.

There’s a grassroots movement of physical silver investors who believe that the paper silver market is heavily manipulated, and that there is nowhere near enough silver to cover the contracts. Neumeyer gives this theory his backing without citing evidence.

Interestingly enough, while Neumeyer acknowledges that QE and U.S. dollar debasement will boost gold and drag silver along the way, he views these drivers as considerably less important. Instead, he is looking towards the amount of available silver against the prospect of ever-growing demand from the industrial side.

As Neumeyer noted, the mining industry currently produces 800 million silver a year, of which 100 million already go towards EV production and another 100 million towards solar panels. Combined, that makes up close to 20% of annual production. Neumeyer points out that the automotive industry currently produces 19 million cars a year, of which 5 million are EVs.

If the governments of the world get their way, every gasoline vehicle will be replaced with an EV within a decade or two. Neumeyer says that this amounts to roughly a billion cars, which obviously puts quite a strain on the automotive industry and therefore silver miners.

With 100 million ounces of silver needed for every 5 million EVs made, it’s clear that even a slight increase in EV demand could quickly shake up prices. It’s definitely looking to come together nicely with growing demand for physical silver among investors, many of whom are staunch believers that the price is being suppressed through derivatives and that it should indeed be closer to Neumeyer’s forecasts than its current levels. Given the silver shortages in various top mints around the world as of late, the theory is not an easy one to dismiss.

Silver Shines Brighter than Gold on Electric Vehicle Demand

Silver Outshines Gold on Electrical Vehicle Demand

As seen on Kitco, silver’s many uses continue to entice investors with possibilities of price gains from more corners than in the case of gold. In a recent report, John Feeney, business development manager at Guardian Vaults, shared his view of why silver has everything going for it in the current landscape.

Despite a recently-sprung grassroots movement that has turned silver into Main Street’s favored investment, silver has yet to really take off from its $24 support level. And while many correctly attribute this to a disconnect between the paper and physical market, Feeney expects silver’s broad-based demand sources to eventually be reflected in rising prices.

Feeney believes silver will attract more and more investors as they wake up to our economic reality. Despite optimistic claims, the Federal Reserve is in no position to tighten monetary policy or normalize interest rates. Because the modern global economy relies on debt, interest rates must be kept extremely low to avoid a collapse. More money must be printed. This is the same investment case that has many excited for gold moving forward.

However, the case for silver extends far past that. Whereas gold’s detractors like to lament how the metal is a throwback, silver is as futuristic of an investment as one can hope for (despite being around for centuries). And, unlike other futuristic investments, it doesn’t carry a massive amount of risk.

Why futuristic? Well, there are three huge and growing sources of demand: photovoltaics for solar panels, superpowered next-generation batteries and electrical vehicles.

Feeney refers to data from the World Silver Institute, which projects that silver usage in electric vehicles is expected to grow to 90 million ounces by 2025, with demand expected to grow to more than 100,000 ounces by 2030. Whether one wants to fully embrace these forecasts or not, the writing is on the wall in regards to EVs, manufacturing and silver supply.

Partly because of government incentives and partly because of customer interest, demand for EVs has risen exponentially, and is only expected to continue to climb. Manufacturers have long used “thrifting,” a way of spreading out silver as much as possible, in order to cut back costs. Yet these methods are nearing their natural point of exhaustion (at a certain point you just can’t become more efficient). At this point there will be no alternative but to use the necessary silver to manufacture the device, regardless of cost.

On the flip side, silver has one of the more complicated supply pictures, with much of it coming as a byproduct of mining other metals. Therefore, the physical silver market is even worse equipped to deal with a sudden increase in demand than the gold market. Because of all of this, Feeney makes a point of embracing silver’s volatile bouts and encourages investors to buy the dip in what is looking like a very promising investment.

Buying Gold For “Portfolio Insurance” Could Be Lucrative

With all the parallels being drawn between the Vietnam war and the Afghanistan war, the tale of how gold plays into it is an interesting one. 1971 marked the full and official untethering of the U.S. dollar from gold and the beginning of a monetary experiment that works quite well until one looks under the hood.

But what really prompted President Nixon to make his infamous decision? As MoneyWeek’s Dominic Frisby notes, in August 1971, French president Pompidou sent his officials to New York to collect the nation’s expatriated gold, battleship and all. As the British informed Nixon that he should begin preparations, the President quickly realized that he can’t part with $3 billion of physical gold and finance a costly war with Vietnam. A concession had to be made, and between a sovereign and economic one, Nixon chose the latter.

The dollar was now untethered from gold, and the U.S. was free to print it and finance the war while eroding the greenback’s purchasing power to unimaginable levels. Perhaps most importantly, Frisby reminds us that Nixon portrayed the untethering as an extreme and temporary measure, one that would only be necessary until the war effort is over. This portrayal definitely served to cushion the impact of something that might otherwise seem unacceptable, just as in the case of quite a few other governmental interventions.

Now, 50 years later, we see that the government’s assurances don’t amount to much, and we’ve gleaned a few other things as well. Money is easy to print, but physical gold is hard to come by. Frisby notes that some gold investors might be disappointed by gold’s 15% drop from its high of $2,070. But that only really refers to spot price. An ounce of paper gold might go for its spot price, but those wanting to buy gold bullion might quickly find that the price has hardly changed since last August.

Gold owners and long-time bugs should also view gold’s lack of performance compared to stocks and other asset classes as a positive development. Wall Street instructs investors to hold 10% of their portfolio in gold and hope that it doesn’t go up. That’s because gold going up significantly means economic disaster as an optimistic scenario and a global crisis as a less pleasant one.

Yet gold is indeed going up. Over the last few weeks, it fell to $1,750 only to promptly climb back to its current level of above $1,815. Investors aren’t selling, which tells us that the outlook isn’t that great. Inflation is already here, and that it will only be temporary is yet another governmental assurance that could very well rank with the aforementioned ones. All of the drivers are in place for gold to continue its move up, and that’s not counting any black swan event during a time when everyone seems to be preparing for them.

Frisby sees room for gold to jump between 30% and 40% if trouble arises. In the meantime, gold investors should hold onto their well-performing insurance and hope that the next bout of gains comes from something mild such as a stock market crash, instead of global upheaval.

Gold Bullion and Coin Demand Just Keeps Rising: World Gold Council

Gold Bullion and Coin Demand Just Keeps Rising: World Gold Council
Photo by Zlaťáky.cz

As seen in the World Gold Council’s Gold Demand Trends report for 2021’s second quarter, gold managed to shed its losses from the first quarter and post an overall 4% price gain in Q2. Certain hawkish statements made by the Federal Reserve weren’t enough to balance inflation concerns, a weaker dollar and negative real interest rates.

Gold demand just keeps growing

Gold demand intensified on all fronts, including a somewhat surprising return by funds after their massive outflows in the first quarter. While the report states that there is still room for improvement in terms of jewelry demand, consumer purchases have nonetheless posted a considerable recovery, especially as economic conditions remain sluggish in many areas of the world.

Overall, jewelry demand in Q2 totaled 390.7 tons, a 60% year-on-year increase. The biggest buyer was China, whose 146.9 tons amounted to a 62% year-on-year increase. Chinese consumers purchased 338 tons of gold in the first six months of 2021, a 122% year-on-year increase. Remarkably, the figure is also 6% higher than the amount of jewelry purchased in the country in first half of 2019. Despite economic woes, India posted a 25% year-on-year increase in jewelry purchases, with similar rises happening across most of the Middle East.

Western jewelers also had a notable showing, with 37.7 tons of jewelry demand in Q2 2021 marking the strongest showing for the quarter since 2007. Investment demand in the U.S. was another important point, with retail investors buying 30 tons in the second quarter. The amount of gold bought in the first half of 2021 was brought to a record 61.7 tons. Chinese retailers and individual investors made the most of lower premiums and a stronger economy, buying 57.3 tons of gold in Q2. This represented a 41% year-on-year increase and a 16% increase over the second quarter of 2019.

Worldwide demand for gold bars saw an 18% year-on-year increase, while gold coin demand rose by 7% compared to the same quarter last year. And not all of the buyers were private investors.

Central bank gold buying significantly higher

Central banks posted their third consecutive quarter of net buying despite many instances of nations resorting to selling. Demand from the official sector was all the more notable due to the diversity of buyers, with Thailand purchasing 90.2 tons of gold in the first half of the year. It was joined by many other relative newcomers, such as Hungary which bought 62.09 tons of gold during the same period and Uzbekistan with purchases amounting to 25.50 tons.

The overall 214% year-on-year increase in central bank purchases was conspicuous, but perhaps expected given the conditions of last year.

Industrial demand for gold rising, too

Despite disruptions in the technological sector, gold demand was still strong across the board, with an overall 18% year-on-year increase of 80 tons bought during the second quarter. Electronics demand rose the most, 16%, while dentistry recorded its first year-on-year increase in 17 years with 12%.

Other industrial demand rose from 8.3 tons in Q1 to 10.8 tons in Q2, a 31% year-on-year increase.

Gold Rises on Inflation, Exhaustion of Stock Market Optimism, and This

Gold Rises on Exhaustion of Stock Market Optimism, Fears of Inflation, and This
Photo by Sabrinna Ringquist

Sentiment from both Wall Street and Main Street has gotten progressively more bullish on gold over the past few weeks, and with good reason. Gold has now posted its third straight week of gains and appears to be looking for another resistance level to breach.

The metal’s move past, and stay above, the important $1,800 level has been in focus for many. Friday’s trading session had it inching towards $1,830 before closing the day above $1,810 in yet another example of bullish action that has been on full display for nearly a month.

Gold may drop before it launches much higher: Newton Advisors

Newton Advisors’ founder Mark Newton says that, from a broader standpoint, gold’s price could experience another significant dip below $1,750 that would let investors get in on the action. Newton told CNBC that this is because June and July are traditionally the weakest months for gold in a year, making the latest run all the more impressive.

Regardless of whether gold experiences such a pullback, Newton says $1,855 is the next level to watch out for and that breaking it will most likely have gold pushing towards new highs. The gains over the past weeks came in good part over doubts that the global economy will recover as some optimistic forecasts are claiming.

Inflation is only the second most-important issue: Mobius Capital Partners

It can also be interpreted as an exhaustion of optimism in the more risk-on markets, a stance that was very much prominent heading up to June. Seasoned investor and co-founder of Mobius Capital Partners Mark Mobius believes that the narrow focus on inflation has actually sidelined a much bigger problem.

As investors and people worry about prices of goods and services rising, many of them forget that the true cause of this is currency devaluation, said Mobius in a recent interview. Mobius is one of a number of prominent experts who doubt in the accuracy or even altogether relevancy of the CPI as an inflation gauge.

While the CPI rose this year at its fastest pace since 2008, Mobius says that it leaves too many factors out and that prices are actually rising much more rapidly. The spike in prices, says Mobius, is the result of a currency losing its value, as has unfortunately been the case throughout history. This is why companies treat any spike in inflation as currency debasement, and why gold is likely to come into prominence as a store of wealth over the coming months.

Mobius’ comments over currency devaluation come during a time when the U.S. dollar faces some of the biggest threats to its status in a long time, partly due to money printing and balance sheet expansion and partly due to a broader loss of faith in fiat. In general, Mobius expects gold to continue moving up along with inflation, especially since central banks are actively targeting it instead of attempting to deflate their currencies as part of standard policy.

Wall Street, Main Street Bullish on Gold

Wall Street sentiment regarding gold’s price trajectory is shifting to the upside in considerable fashion, joining the already-optimistic Main Street traders. The Kitco gold price survey from last week showed 69.2% of Wall Street analysts surveyed expecting prices to move higher this week. No bearish votes were cast, with the remaining 30.8% predicted a neutral or sideways-only price movement.

Main Street was a bit more evenly spread, though still heavily favoring the upside. Nearly half of retail investors surveyed (49.6%) forecast higher prices this week, while 25.8% were bearish and 24.6% were neutral.

Despite little price action last week, analysts generally agree that a move to the $1,750 support level will be met with a strong correction, while a breach of the $1,800 level will continue to establish new highs for the metal.

Specific analyst commentary on gold in the short term

Marc Chandler, managing director at Global Forex, views a scenario where gold touches $1,750 before bouncing to the $1,800-1,815 range this week as the likeliest.

Kitco’s senior analyst Jim Wyckoff also finds the range important, noting that a move above $1,800 would set the trend for prices to go higher.

RJO Futures senior commodities broker Daniel Pavilonis is especially focused on a close above the $1,820 level. If it happens, Pavilonis thinks the market could be in for some explosive price action. Besides gold finding consistent support above the 200-day moving average, Pavilonis also said that the latest bout of strength in the U.S. dollar appears to be exhausting.

Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management, is also notably bullish on gold. Cieszynski pointed to strong technicals as a reason to believe that gold might be getting ready to break out from the aforementioned range and continue moving up.

How is recent news affecting gold?

In general, the lack of any notable rise in gold price has been attributed to mixed signals from the Federal Reserve and corresponding data. The dollar continues to hold ground amid both peak inflationary expectations and rising inflation across the board. The latest data reports were likewise a mixed bag, with better-than-expected U.S. non-farm payrolls being met with a rise in unemployment.

The data still fell short of optimistic forecasts, however, and both Treasury yields and the greenback fell after the report. Analysts also noted that a lower trading volume on Monday due to the 4th of July holiday in the U.S. could result in some additional delays before gold finds a spot above $1,800.

Short-term vs. long-term views

Although analysts do enjoy attempts to predict the future, if you don’t work in the financial news industry, you’re probably better off keeping your eye on the horizon. When you look at gold’s performance over time, that’s when it really begins to shine.

Buy the Dip While Panic Selling in Gold Lasts

Buy the Dip While Panic Selling in Gold Lasts

Gold has always been prone to bearish Wall Street sentiment and investor overreactions, and this was perhaps on full display after the latest Federal Reserve meeting. Optimistic GDP forecasts and hints at interest rate hikes in 2023 and onwards sent gold tumbling to a two-month low, with weekly losses above 5% percent. Yet, as usual, the drivers of the move downwards are questionable at best.

Adrian Day, president of Adrian Day Asset Management, said that the Fed meeting was actually bullish for gold upon closer inspection. He expects prices to bounce back in the short-term. Day notes that the Fed chair essentially said the government wants to rein in its loose monetary policy, but doesn’t have a way of doing it. This is clearly demonstrated by their inability to hike rates for at least two more years.

Day believes a lot of the selling was automated on some level and that investors will soon return to their previous bullish outlook.

Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management, said that markets were looking for an excuse to rebalance from technically overbought gold and oversold U.S. dollar, and that the Fed meeting was just that.

Cieszynski said that it wasn’t so much the Fed’s projections that caused the pullback, but rather the signal that officials are looking for a way to tighten monetary policy. While the statement alone was enough to send the markets selling, Day is among the numerous experts who don’t see any feasible way for the Fed to either tighten its monetary policy or subdue inflation.

The latter has been an especially prominent talking point as of late, with core and consumer inflation rising at their fastest pace in over a decade and consensus forecasts that more inflation is coming. Phillip Streible, chief investment strategist at Blue Line Futures, said that his firm has been waiting for an opportunity to buy gold.

Streible said his company has already started buying the dip, noting that they are positioning themselves for higher inflation accompanied by weaker-than-expected growth later in the year.

Last week’s Kitco News Weekly Gold Survey of 18 Wall Street analysts showed that 56% were bearish on gold in the short-term, with bullish and neutral sentiment tied with 22% votes for each. A Main Street poll with 2,174 respondents showed considerably more optimistic sentiment, with 52% of voters expecting gold to bounce back this week, 31% expecting additional pullbacks and 17% voting neutral.

In Russia’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, the Dollar’s Out and Gold Is In

In Russia's Sovereign Wealth Fund, the Dollar's Out and Gold Is In

The tale of Russian gold purchases has taken yet another interesting turn that might, at first glance, be difficult to decipher. After spearheading central bank gold purchases year after year in an almost boastful fashion, as if to remind Western interests that sanctions imposed on the nation can only accomplish so much, it ceased all purchases last March.

Its central bank gave a vague statement and has made no official purchases since then, only making two small sales. It was quite the shift from purchasing gold bullion in double-digit tonnage every month, but nonetheless left the country with the fifth-largest sovereign gold stockpile in the world, amounting to 2292 tons.

Russia’s National Wealth Fund

When people talk of sovereign gold stockpiles, they almost invariably refer to the amount of gold owned directly by a national central bank. Yet just as Russia so often blurs the line between public and private business, it appears that the same effect is happening with its national fund allocation. The $185 billion National Wealth Fund (NWF) is the latest edition of Russia’s state wealth fund. It has changed names since its introduction in 2004, but its focus was always on having a diverse portfolio that would protect Russia’s state budget against oil price fluctuations and secure the nation’s pension fund.

In December 2019, Russia’s Finance Minister Anton Siluanov made a statement that the fund should invest in gold due to the metal’s reliability. In November, the Russian government came up with a proposition that would allow the NWF to buy and store gold, and on May 21, an official announcement was made that the fund was greenlighted to do just that. The gold, unsurprisingly, will be stored with Russia’s central bank.

Where does the money come from?

The NWF is similar to the sovereign wealth funds owned by many nations who enjoy budget surpluses. Norway, China, and Abu Dhabi currently place in the top 3 for fund balances. The concept is simple: money in a sovereign wealth fund gets invested like a pension or an endowment, with profits accruing to the fund (and, by extension, the nation).

Like Norway’s and Abu Dhabi’s funds, the Russian sovereign wealth fund takes its seed capital from the nation’s oil industry. Any Russian oil revenue that isn’t allocated to the federal budget goes to the NWF, and the NWF spends it on a wide variety of assets.

Perhaps the worthiest of mention here are foreign exchange and foreign debt securities, which will likely lessen in favor of gold and precious metals over the following months and years.

Last year, gold officially become a bigger component of Russian reserve assets than U.S.-dollar denominated assets. It has since continued to de-dollarize amid risks of sanctions from both the U.S. and the European Union.

Gold’s popularity as an asset

Various nations that have purchased gold officially over the past few years cited the metal’s utility as a tool for sovereign influence and a universally-accepted store of value, despite having no immediate threat of sanctions unlike Russia.

In short, the new legislation means Russia can continue hoarding gold and dumping dollars under the guise of sound portfolio management. While the NWF issues supposedly accurate allocation reports, the same can’t be said of the State Fund of Precious Metals and Precious Stones, another government branch that does not publish reports on its gold reserves. As sovereign nations open up about the importance of owning gold to maintain clout on the global stage, Russia now has three different investment vehicles through which it can increase its bullion stockpile and lessen dependence on foreign assets.

Gold’s Heading Up for Many Reasons. Here’s the Weirdest One

Gold's Heading Up for Many Reasons. Here's the Weirdest One

After months of sideways price action, gold appears to have resumed its uptrend, breaking out of its range and hitting a high just short of $1,890 during Friday’s trading session. With upwards momentum looking strong and the 200-day moving average passed, some are wondering what caused gold’s breakout after a fairly tepid few months. This time, the usual suspects are joined by an unusual trend that just might be the primary cause…

Inflation and dollar weakness

According to the World Gold Council, the price rise is the result of inflationary concerns, with the CPI jumping by 4.2% year-on-year in April. Commodity prices are soaring, which drives up the producer price index and increases consumer costs on virtually everything from food to homes.

In addition, the trillions of newly-printed dollars are still a primary concern for most investors. Thanks to three rounds of free money, spending has recovered so a lot of those dollars are chasing a limited quantity of goods, driving prices higher. with inflation already materializing on one front and warnings of a lot of more to come on another.

JPMorgan reports big institutional investors dumping “digital gold” for the real thing

Some experts view the recent cryptocurrency “correction” (which seems like too subtle a word to describe a 7-day 40% plunge) as the real reason behind gold’s recent price gains. Bitcoin was praised as an inflationary hedge due to its fixed supply and, in fact, was invented primarily as a counterweight to central bank malpractice after the 2008 financial crisis.

But the recent double-digit percentage correction in the market reminded investors looking for a hedge that the crypto market is, and has always been, a highly volatile one.

While bitcoin provides hedging utility, its price volatility absolutely boggles the mind. This is where gold emerges as a familiar, reliable and most of all stable asset, as an overnight double-digit percentage pullback would be virtually unheard of in the well-established market. That’s probably why JP Morgan’s report of big institutional investors choosing stable hedging with gold over volatile hedging with bitcoin.

That might be a partial explanation of our unusual fund flow report…

Paper gold funds bucking the price trend

As seen on Chief Investment Officer, Tom McClellan offers a curious take that even the keen analyst might have overlooked.

McClellan notes that spikes in gold prices are usually followed by massive inflows into large gold funds. It’s the same pattern you see in stocks: once a stock has proven it’s a winner by going up, everyone wants a piece of the success, so they buy. It’s a human reaction. It’s the closest thing to a law of investing there is.

This time is different. Despite a major upward move in gold’s price, two of the biggest gold funds (SPDR Gold Shares, GLD and iShares Gold Trust, IAU) have not gained buyers. They have not seen the kind of cash inflow that always seems inevitable when prices go up. What’s going on?

McClellan interprets this as investors still not having woken up to the goings-on in the gold market, perhaps due to the hectic economic situation affecting all other markets. This could also be seen as investors uncharacteristically holding out for further developments before making a move, which doesn’t sound bullish on its own.

McClellan explained the potential benefits of the situation this way:

The uptrend is not mature yet. It still has more to go, before we get to the point when everyone starts piling in.

“Piling in” in this case means buying paper gold, which drives up gold’s spot price, which in turn tends to attract paper gold buyers… Basically the kind of feeding frenzy that has the potential to send prices skyrocketing.

Given that gold has already broken out to the cusp of $1,900, the kind of acknowledgment and subsequent piling into funds that McClellan hints to would quickly translate to fireworks in the gold market.

If McClellan’s idea that gold’s uptrend has just started gaining traction towards $1,900, on the way to its previous all-time high, the smart investors who hold gold have plenty to be excited about.

Gold Demand Trends Update: Paper Gold Sell-Off Despite Insatiable Hunger for Physical Gold

Gold Demand Trends Update: Q1 2021

On April 29, the World Gold Council released a comprehensive overview of the various drivers behind gold demand in the first quarter of the year, as well as covering some supply insights. Here are the most interesting parts…

Gold demand falling?

The 23% year-on-year decline in demand would, at first glance, have one believe that gold is falling out of favor. Yet, as the report notes, the percentage is almost exclusively attributed to a combination of paper gold fund outflows and central banks temporarily becoming net sellers.

Paper gold dumped (especially in the U.S.)

Publicly-traded gold ETFs (including but not limited to SPDR Gold Shares: GLD, iShares Gold Trust:IAU, Goldman Sachs Physical Gold ETF:AAAU, Invesco Physical Gold: SGLD) have been net sellers of gold for five of the last six months. January was the sole outlier with a net gain of a mere 14.3 tons globally.

What’s going on?

There are a variety of explanations: investors are pivoting into the stock market, in the hopes the stimulus-fueled boom in markets will somehow become sustainable. Investors saw the massive inflation in basic materials reported in March and moved their commodity bets away from gold, into base metals, lumber and other industrial raw materials. Or perhaps Americans learned to prefer gold they can hold in their hands to a line item on their brokerage statements, and sold paper to buy physical gold?

That would explain the extreme supply shortages gold dealers have experienced all-too regularly since early 2020. And also the reason the U.S. Mint rationed precious metals coin sales…

Interestingly, while Western funds sold off their gold, Asian funds were eager to load up on them. Chinese funds bought 11.5 tons of gold in Q1 to boost their holdings to a record 72.4 tons, with the rest of Asia reinforcing the trend of the flow of institutional gold from West to East.

The rest of the gold demand story is, well, pretty simple. Everybody wants gold.

Gold jewelry boom

From a broader perspective, it looks like gold demand is ramping up on all sides. The report points to a 52% year-on-year increase in jewelry demand, showing a massive recovery in consumer purchases in this quarter compared to the previous year. While gold demand still has room to recover in this sector, there are already numerous promising figures. The $27.5 billion spent on the 477.4 tons of gold jewelry is the highest first-quarter amount since 2013, and also 25% above the five-year quarterly average.

Although China spearheaded jewelry demand with 191.1 tons in Q1, the highest quarterly figure since 2015, and India trailed with 102.5 tons, other parts of the world showed strong jewelry purchases as well. Despite a lot of tumult in the country over the quarter, Turkey still posted a 5% year-on-year increase in jewelry purchases over the period.

In addition to a number of smaller Asian nations, the U.S. consumer base looks to have strengthened, with domestic jewelry demand growing 6% year-on-year to 24.3 tons, the highest Q1 figure since 2009.

Consumer demand for physical gold highest ever

The flow of gold from Western funds we discussed above stood in stark contrast to investment demand on the consumer side.

Q1 was the third consecutive quarter of growth in gold coin and bar demand, climbing to 339.5 tons, the highest quarterly figure since 2016. Investment demand was strong across all regions, with the U.S. posting a 77% year-on-year increase of 26.3 tons, double the five-year quarterly average.

China’s 86 tons of investment gold bought in Q1 were a massive 133% year-on-year increase and a 21% increase compared to Q1 2019. Indian retail investment grew for the third quarter in a row to reach 37.5 tons, a 34% year-on-year increase, while Turkey’s 44.3 tons were an almost double year-on-year increase.

Manufacturers bought almost as much gold as central banks

After last year’s back-and-forth, central banks returned to net purchasing with 95 tons of gold bought in Q1, and the report expects the official sector to continue with strong purchases throughout the year. The often-overlooked technology sector saw an 11% year-on-year increase in gold purchases, amounting to a total of 81.2 tons, with 66.4 tons coming from electronics manufacturers.

Gold production snapshot

Despite a recovery in mine production, overall gold supply in the first quarter fell by 4% year-on-year, amounting to 1,146 tons compared to the 1,096 tons supplied over the same period last year.

In short, it looks like the shortage we’ve seen in physical gold coins and bullion since 2020 won’t get better anytime soon. It might get worse first, between China’s big imports for consumers and citizens of crisis-stricken nations desperate for gold as a safe store of value (Turkey’s lira crisis and India’s COVID emergency).