The sentiment shift is still subtle, but it’s both real and widespread. After a few years of being ignored and/or dismissed as basically useless, gold is cool again, attracting positive comments in the media and increasing accumulation by big investors.
India, for instance, imported less gold than usual in the first part of this year but lately has ramped up its buying, with August imports more than double the year-earlier amount.
Hungary just did something even more dramatic:
Hungary’s central bank increased its gold reserves 10-fold, citing the need to improve its holdings’ safety, joining regional peers with relatively high ownership in the European Union’s east.
Following a similar move by Poland, the central bank in Budapest now holds 31.5 tons of the metal, taking the share among total reserves to 4.4 percent, in line with the average in the region, according to a statement published on its website Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the long-dormant South African gold miners are seeing sudden interest:
Back in late 2015 and early 2016, we wrote about a leading indicator for gold stocks, namely the sub-sector of marginal – and hence highly leveraged to the gold price – South African gold stocks. Our example du jour at the time was Harmony Gold (HMY) (see “Marginal Producer Takes Off” and “The Canary in the Gold Mine” for the details).
As we write these words, something is cooking in South African gold stocks, that much is absolutely certain. Here is a chart of the JSE Gold Index in ZAR (South African rand) terms:
While we cannot be sure why investors have suddenly become enamored with the precious metals sector, it is probably a good guess that gold stocks are by now so cheap that they are considered a worthwhile target for rotation purposes.
And it’s not just South African miners. The industry’s big names are suddenly outperforming tech stocks. From yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:
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