Gold bullion bars after being polished at the ABC Refinery in Sydney on August 5, 2020.


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Gold was up by close to 40% for the year when it hit a record high in August, but it has since nearly halved that gain, and some analysts say a move to fresh all-time highs in the final quarter may be out of reach for the precious metal.

“Gold has enjoyed a meteoric rise this year, hitting a record in early August on the back of a weak dollar and continued [Federal Reserve] support,” says Matt Orton, vice president at Carillon Tower Advisers. The Fed actions drove real rates lower, “making cash and Treasuries much less attractive, and gold a better alternative.”

Futures prices for the precious metal settled at a record $2,069.40 an ounce on Aug. 6. On Oct. 7, it settled at $1,890.80, up 24% year to date.

“Negative U.S. real rates have stabilized and started to move higher in August,” with gold moving lower as a result, Orton says. The impact of real rates and the dollar are key drivers of gold prices, not equity investor sentiment, and “with economic data continuing to show signs of a recovery, I would expect this rise in real rates to continue, as well as a general strengthening of the dollar—an additional headwind for gold.” Prices for the metal aren’t likely to reach new record highs in the near future, he says.

The Fed pledged in September to hold its benchmark interest rate between zero and 0.25% until labor-market conditions reached a certain level and inflation was on track to moderately exceed its 2% target rate “for some time.” The fed-funds rate is below zero in real terms, which takes inflation into account.

Real rates, however, stopped plunging after

By Fathin Ungku and Ernest Scheyder

SINGAPORE/HOUSTON (Reuters) – When miners at Indonesia’s giant Grasberg gold and copper mine started testing positive for coronavirus early in the pandemic, the mountain-top mining complex was quickly locked down with a skeletal staff left in place to maintain production.But as months of travel curbs dragged on, angry workers blockaded the mine for four days in August until the operator – a unit of U.S. miner Freeport McMoRan Inc – relented and let them resume weekly rotations out of the site via a four-hour trek by cable car and bus to towns below.

Now the workers are happier, but health experts fear the greater risk of a new outbreak.

The tensions expose the balancing act to maintain output at full blast, while containing COVID-19 in mines like Grasberg, the world’s largest gold mine and second-largest copper mine.

“We’ve put the priority and the health of our workers and community at the top of our list,” Freeport McMoRan Chief Executive Richard Adkerson told Reuters. “From the outset, we recognized that (Grasberg) was a particularly vulnerable place due to the size of the workforce” of nearly 30,000 people.

While Freeport has halted some global operations due to the pandemic, production has continued at the 14,000 foot (4,267 metre) -high Grasberg mine despite Indonesia facing one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Southeast Asia.

In May, Freeport said it would operate with a “skeletal team” because of a rise in coronavirus cases in the area, including at the workers’ living quarters. Freeport said at the time it was limiting contractors and removing “high-risk” workers but did not specify how many people would be working at the mine.

But the lockdown took a psychological toll on the workers stuck above the clouds at the site since April, some

By Fathin Ungku and Ernest Scheyder

SINGAPORE/HOUSTON (Reuters) – When miners at Indonesia’s giant Grasberg gold and copper mine started testing positive for coronavirus early in the pandemic, the mountain-top mining complex was quickly locked down with a skeletal staff left in place to maintain production.But as months of travel curbs dragged on, angry workers blockaded the mine for four days in August until the operator – a unit of U.S. miner Freeport McMoRan Inc – relented and let them resume weekly rotations out of the site via a four-hour trek by cable car and bus to towns below.

Now the workers are happier, but health experts fear the greater risk of a new outbreak.

The tensions expose the balancing act to maintain output at full blast, while containing COVID-19 in mines like Grasberg, the world’s largest gold mine and second-largest copper mine.

“We’ve put the priority and the health of our workers and community at the top of our list,” Freeport McMoRan Chief Executive Richard Adkerson told Reuters. “From the outset, we recognized that (Grasberg) was a particularly vulnerable place due to the size of the workforce” of nearly 30,000 people.

While Freeport has halted some global operations due to the pandemic, production has continued at the 14,000 foot (4,267 metre) -high Grasberg mine despite Indonesia facing one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Southeast Asia.

In May, Freeport said it would operate with a “skeletal team” because of a rise in coronavirus cases in the area, including at the workers’ living quarters. Freeport said at the time it was limiting contractors and removing “high-risk” workers but did not specify how many people would be working at the mine.

But the lockdown took a psychological toll on the workers stuck above the clouds at the site since April, some

By Stephen Culp

NEW YORK (Reuters) – International stocks rose on Friday, with all three major Wall Street indexes posting weekly gains as investors grew more hopeful the U.S. government would provide additional economic stimulus.

Gold jumped and the dollar dropped as investors focused on the probability of forthcoming U.S. coronavirus relief.

Wrangling in Washington over pandemic aid has dominated global markets this week, and although U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin failed to hammer out a deal, talks will continue despite Republican doubts.

Trump said in an interview on Friday that he wants to see a bigger stimulus package than either Democrats or Republicans were offering, a reversal from his threats at the beginning of the week that he would halt negotiations.

“We’re in one of those periods where Washington is driving Wall Street, be it either the presidential election or fiscal stimulus and today it was about the stimulus,” said David Carter, chief investment officer at Lenox Wealth Advisors in New York.

“Markets are up on the hope that more fiscal stimulus is coming but its really just hope, as communication from Washington has become somewhat erratic,” Carter added.

Trump expressed a desire to return to the campaign trail a week after announcing he had contracted COVID-19, but aides said he was unlikely to hold in-person events until Monday at the earliest.

Reuters/Ipsos polls show Trump’s approval rating plummeting, with Americans steadily losing confidence in his handling of the pandemic, while Democratic challenger Joe Biden makes gains in several key swing states.

“Biden is rising in the polls, creating both hope that fiscal stimulus is coming and less of a chance of a contested election which could be a real problem for markets,” Carter said.

Next week, investors’ attention will shift to reporting season,

Nervous investors have bought more than 1,000 tonnes of gold this year, a record figure equivalent to the entire hoard the Swiss National Bank has stashed away in its vaults.

For centuries people have considered gold a store of value in turbulent times. In 2020 they have been buying it in droves.

Gold exchange traded funds (ETFs) recorded their tenth consecutive month of positive inflows in September for only the third time since the financial crisis. This was despite gold experiencing its biggest monthly price drop since November 2016, falling 3.6%, after reaching a new all-time high in August.

With concerns mounting about the outcome of the upcoming U.S. election and a second wave of coronavirus infections, will the precious metal retain its lustre in the fourth quarter?

Investors certainly believe so. Figures this week from the World Gold Council (WGC) show globally, they have poured $55.7 billion into gold ETFs this year. ETF managers have had to buy 1,003 tonnes of the metal to meet rising demand, smashing the 2009 peak of 646 tonnes and taking inventories up to a record 3,880 tonnes or $235 billion.

This wall of money helped push the gold price up to a new high of $2,075 an ounce in early August. Despite the pullback in September, the yellow metal ended the third quarter up 6%, its eighth straight quarter of price gains. Gold is now up more than 20% this year, way ahead of the S&P 500’s gains.

The WGC believes last month’s price fall was “likely tactical in nature”, resulting mainly from profit-taking and rebalancing around the quarter-end.

Global investors still increased their gold exposure by 7%, or $4.6 billion, overall in September.

Anxious American investors have been