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Is Plunging U.S. Dollar Bullish or Bearish News for Gold?

August 9, 2013, 8:17 PM

Based on the August 9th, 2013 Premium Update. Visit our archives for more gold & silver articles.

Without a doubt, the recent weeks were tough for the U.S. currency. The U.S. dollar fell as investors weighed when the Federal Reserve would slow the pace of bond purchases that had contributed to weakening the greenback. It also dropped against all its major counterparts after a government report last week showed American employers hired fewer workers in July than economists had predicted. Another bearish factor which weakened the dollar was strong data from China that suggested economic optimism.

"The weakness in the dollar is causing some short-covering in gold," said Ronald Leung at dealer and refiner Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong Kong.

What has happened with gold in the recent weeks? After a rally to over $1,347 the yellow metal declined below $1,300 per ounce and then pulled back to $1,320. In the following days we saw a sharp drop to a three-week low and an equally strong move to the upside which took gold to over $1,316 per ounce. Some investors said it was a roller coaster.

Yesterday, gold bounced higher and gained nearly 2 percent. Its recovery was helped by the dollar's slide to a seven-week low. However, the improvement didn’t last long and today the shiny metal eased back below $1,310 an ounce as the dollar recovered.

This interesting relationship between the U.S. dollar and gold has encouraged us to examine the US Dollar Index and the gold chart from two other perspectives to see if there’s anything on the horizon that could drive gold prices higher or lower shortly. We’ll start with the USD Index very long-term chart to put the gold charts into perspective (charts courtesy byhttp://stockcharts.com.)

Long-term US Dollar Index chart

As we wrote in our essay on gold, stocks and the dollar on July 24, 2013:

The breakout above the declining support/resistance line (currently close to 79) was still not invalidated.

The above paragraph is up-to-date also today. From the long-term perspective, the situation remains bullish.

Now, let's zoom in on our picture of the USD Index and see the medium-term chart.

Medium-term US Dollar Index chart

On the above weekly chart, we can see that in the past week, the USD Index declined once again. The recent declines took the index to the medium-term support line (currently close to the 81 level). Keep in mind that this strong support line stopped the decline in June (it was not even reached) and encouraged buyers to act, which resulted in a sharp rally in the following days. Taking this into account, we might see a similar situation in the coming days.

From this perspective, the medium-term uptrend is not threatened, and the situation remains bullish. Therefore we can expect the dollar to strengthen further in the coming weeks.

To make the U.S. dollar perspective complete, let’s see how the situation in the US currency may translate into the precious metals market. Let’s take a look at the Correlation Matrix (namely: gold correlations and silver correlations).

Gold and silver correlation matrix

Basically, there have been changes in the values of coefficients since we commented on them previously inour essay on gold, stocks and the dollar on July 24:

We have seen negative correlation between the metals and the USD Index(…). Taking the short-term, bullish outlook for the USD Index into account, the implications for gold, silver, and the mining stocks are clearly bearish at this time.

At this point we would like to add that even though the USD Index declined by almost a full index point this week, gold didn’t rally – it moved lower by about $3. Gold’s underperformance remains in place – or at least Thursday’s rally is not enough to change it.

Once we know the current situation in the U.S currency and its implications for the precious metals sector, let's find out what happened during the recent days and check the current situation in gold from the perspective of the Australian dollar. Does it provide any important clues as to further gold’s price movements?

Gold price in Australian dollar - GOLD:XAD

On the gold priced in Australian dollar chart, we see that the previous breakout was invalidated very quickly, and the price came back below this declining resistance line. However, buyers didn’t give up and triggered one more move to the upside. That increase resulted in the next breakout above the previously-broken resistance/support line.

Despite this growth, gold did not manage to break above the June top as the above-mentioned strong resistance level stopped the rally. The corrective move took the yellow metal below the previously-broken resistance/support line and reached the 50-day moving average.

Keep in mind that we saw similar price action in June. After an invalidation of a breakout above the above-mentioned declining support/resistance line, there was a pullback to this resistance line. The buyers, however, didn’t manage to push gold above it, resulting in strong declines. This time, the gold bulls were stronger and pushed the price a bit higher, but it doesn’t change the similarity between these two situations (still looks like a double-top pattern).

In June, the strong corrective move took gold‘s price all the way back down to the April bottom area. If we see similar price action here, gold priced in Australian dollars will likely decline heavily once again.

So, from this point of view, the recent price increase hasn’t changed the current outlook, and the implications remain bearish.

To finish off, let’s have a glance at a chart that synthesizes the “non-USD” perspective, as it features gold‘s price relative to an index of foreign currencies.

Gold from the non-USD perspective - GOLD:UDN

At the end of July we saw a move to the upside which took gold above the declining support/resistance level. However, the yellow metal didn’t manage to move back above the April bottom. This event brought negative consequences in the following days.

We clearly see that gold showed weakness in the past week as well as this one, and the breakdown below the April’s bottom was verified.

Gold has not broken below the declining support line so far. When it does, the decline will be likely to accelerate.

Summing up, the situation in gold remains bearish. Gold moved higher on Thursday, but overall it’s down $2.90 this week (taking Thursday’s closing price into account), while at the same time, the USD Index is down almost a full index point. Gold continues to underperform the dollar and a one-day rally on relatively low (compared to the size of the rally and volume accompanying previous days’ declines) volume doesn’t change that. The situation remains in tune with previous bearish price patterns.

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In the recent years, the Federal Reserve dropped inflationary bombs on the market and some commentators believed that the US dollar would soon evaporate. It hasn't and, in fact, the USD Index has been moving higher since 2008. Why? How is that possible given all the dollars that have been "printed" since that time? Doesn't the basic law of supply and demand work anymore? In the February 2014 Market Overview we analyze this critical issue and - as always - we discuss the implications for the gold market.

Read more in the latest Market Overview report.

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