Firstly, central banks continued to buy gold at a record pace in Q1 (a trend we highlighted in a previous commentary). Central banks purchased 125 tonnes in the first two months of 2023, with China and Singapore showing significant increases. The decision to freeze Russia’s foreign exchange reserves appears to have accelerated this trend, as central banks continue to diversify their holdings into the system’s neutral reserve asset and gradually reduce their reliance on the US dollar.
Secondly, the fallout from Silicon Valley Bank and Credit Suisse has forced Western investors to reconsider their allocation to the monetary metals. Concerns over counterparty risk, and systemic contagion, have sparked renewed interest in gold, as evidenced by the World Gold Council’s March ETF statistics, which showed the first inflow in ten months1. Nonetheless, investors remain underweight the asset class, with gold ETFs accounting for approximately 2% of all exchange-traded securities (see below).
Gold ETF Allocation (as a % of Total ETFs)
*Source: World Gold Council, Statista, Jupiter, as at 31.03.2023
The gold and silver equities are beginning to reflect favourable underlying factors, with all-in sustaining costs (AISC) for the gold producers declining in Q4 2022 after reaching a peak of $1,276/oz in Q3 2022. Lower costs are a windfall for the producers as it increases their operating margins, especially at a time when the $ gold price has risen $200/oz since the beginning of the year.
There has been an uptick in M&A activity for gold and silver producers so far this year as major producers seek to replenish their reserves through acquisition, a topic we also discussed recently. So far this year, the world’s largest gold producer, Newmont Gold, placed a $19.5bn bid for Newcrest, and B2 Gold has completed its acquisition of Sabina Gold & Silver. And finally, the monetary metals are benefiting from positive multi-year technical chart structures that look set to break out to the upside. We believe that the longer the gold price stays above $2,000/oz, the more likely that there will be a sustained breakout across the sector. Silver has the same technical structure as gold but comes from a lower base as evidenced by the still elevated gold/silver ratio at 80:1.
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