2013 has been a torrid year for gold and it is down 26%. Given the still strong fundamentals, we are confident that in a few years, 2013 will be seen as a mere blip in the context of a long term, secular bull market which will likely see gold prices have a parabolic peak between 2016 and 2020.
ETP liquidations have been one of the primary reasons for gold’s weakness in 2013. However, the supply demand data clearly shows that ETP liquidations are being matched by robust global demand, especially in China. Even if ETP holdings dropped by another 300 plus tonnes in 2014, average Chinese imports through Hong Kong alone are running at well over 100 tonnes per month.
Outflows of gold from ETFs amounted to 24.3 million ounces, nearly 700 metric tonnes, in 2013 from their peak at the end of 2012. Much of this gold was taken out of ETF holdings in London and shipped to refineries in Switzerland, where it was melted down and made into kilogramme bars, then sent to Hong Kong and ultimately to China.
Imports from Hong Kong to China totaled 26.6 million ounces or 754 metric tonnes through September alone. It is unknown where the gold would come from to replenish these ETF holdings were there a sudden surge in demand in the West in the event of a new sovereign debt crisis or a Lehman Brothers style contagion event.