Just when all eyes were focused on China, along came India to spice up the gold market.
With this week's revelation that the International Monetary Fund sold 200 tonnes of gold to India's central bank during October (at prices averaging about $1,045 per ounce), an enormous weight has been lifted from the shoulders of the gold market. Notwithstanding the ever-present likelihood of significant volatility ahead, I believe this move has paved the road toward substantially higher gold prices in the months to come.
200 tonnes sounds like an enormous pot of gold, but we can use some comparisons to place the size of the transaction into context. At 6.43 million ounces, the purchase is approximately equivalent to one-half of intermediate miner Eldorado Gold's (NYSE: EGO ) 12.7 million ounces of total reserves. Popular gold bullion proxy SPDR Gold Shares (NYSE: GLD ) reports holding 1,108 tonnes of gold as of Tuesday. Looking to the in-ground stashes of major miners, India's new pile looks smaller still. Goldcorp (NYSE: GG ) is sitting on reserves equating to seven times the size of India' purchase, while leading producer Barrick Gold (NYSE: ABX ) retains some 3,877 tonnes of unmined reserves.
If you have followed the gold market as closely as this Fool has over the past several years, you will recall that the mere discussion of eventual IMF gold sales would periodically derail gold price advances at conspicuous moments in the metal's ascent. With this orderly transfer from the IMF to India's central bank, the long-held assertion by gold expert Jim Sinclair that IMF gold would never touch the open market has thus far been proven quite correct. With China considered foremost among eager potential buyers of the remaining 203.3 tonnes slated for sale, the gold market is no longer spooked by the specter of these dispositions.
Tuesday's rally was noteworthy for having occurred alongside some serious relative strength in the U.S. dollar index. Wednesday's further advance to a new high above $1,095 per ounce, meanwhile, coincided with a slide in the USDX below 76 ... which I have offered as a pivotal level in anticipating the next step for gold.
While near-term forecasting is a reluctant hobby, I continue to invest with a purely long-term perspective, and encourage Fools to maintain unfettered focus upon the broader picture. Simply stated, I reiterate my $2,000 price target for gold. The Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSE: GDX ) has nearly doubled over the past year, so piling into miners indiscriminately is not advised. After taking a beating for minor development setbacks, Agnico-Eagle Mines (NYSE: AEM ) remains a favorite. For relative bargains, take a look at these mid-tier miners, or mine my silverminer CAPS portfolio for ideas.