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China Loves Gold: China’s enduring fascination with gold took center stage in 2023, as Chinese investors and households emerged as significant consumers of the precious metal, contributing to a record-breaking year for global gold demand. The World Gold Council’s quarterly report sheds light on China’s pivotal role in shaping the dynamics of the gold market, showcasing remarkable growth in both investment and jewelry consumption.

Key Highlights:

  1. Surging Chinese Investment Demand: Chinese investment demand for gold experienced a notable surge, with a 28% increase in 2023, reaching 280 tons. This surge was predominantly driven by a heightened global appetite for the safe-haven characteristics of gold.
  2. Robust Jewelry Consumption: The love for gold jewelry among Chinese consumers continued to flourish, with a 10% increase in consumption, totaling 630 tons in 2023. Chinese households contributed significantly to the overall global gold jewelry consumption.
  3. China’s Role in Record-High Prices: Louise Street, senior market analyst at the WGC, emphasized China’s pivotal role in influencing gold prices. While China may not be the price-setting factor, its consistent demand provides a crucial support base, contributing to gold reaching record highs in December and maintaining levels above $2,000 per troy ounce in the following year.
  4. Global Comparison: China, as the world’s second-largest gold consumer, outshone other major players in 2023. India, the United States, Türkiye, and Iran followed, with China’s total gold purchases reaching nearly 960 tons, showcasing its dominance in the global gold market.
  5. Record-Breaking Worldwide Gold Demand: The WGC’s report highlighted that global gold demand in 2023 reached an all-time high at 4,899 tons. While annual bar and coin investment experienced a mild contraction, annual jewelry consumption remained steady at 2,093 tons.

China’s enduring love affair with gold has not only propelled its own market but has significantly influenced global trends. As Chinese consumers continue to play a crucial role in shaping the trajectory of gold prices and demand, the dynamics of the gold market will undoubtedly be closely linked to China’s ongoing economic and consumer trends.

Gold’s stellar performance in 2023 is expected to extend into the new year, with industry experts predicting a further rally in prices. As the world grapples with economic uncertainties and geopolitical tensions, gold’s appeal as a safe-haven asset remains robust, driving both investor and central bank demand for the precious metal.

Key Drivers of Gold’s Rally:

  1. Year-End Surge and Record Highs: Gold concluded 2023 on a high note, reaching $2,063 per ounce, marking a remarkable 13% year-on-year increase. The metal hit an all-time high of $2,110 per ounce earlier this month, achieving its first annual gain in three years.
  2. Recession Fears and Interest Rate Expectations: The rally in gold prices has been sustained for over two months, propelled by investor demand amid looming recession fears. Expectations of interest rate cuts by the US Federal Reserve, following an aggressive rate-hiking cycle in 2022, have further fueled gold’s ascent.
  3. Geopolitical Tensions as a Safe-Haven Appeal: Geopolitical tensions in the Middle East have heightened gold’s safe-haven appeal. As uncertainties persist on the global stage, investors continue to seek refuge in gold as a store of value.

Expert Projections for 2024:

  • Saxo Bank’s Ole Hansen anticipates further price gains in 2024, driven by momentum-chasing hedge funds, continued central bank gold purchases, and renewed demand from ETF investors.
  • JPMorgan predicts a “breakout rally” in mid-2024, with a peak gold price forecast of $2,300, coinciding with expected rate cuts in the US.
  • Knightsbridge sees gold hitting $2,500 by the end of 2024, citing heightened geopolitical risks and concerns about inflation.

Central Banks’ Role:

The World Gold Council’s 2024 outlook underscores the pivotal role of central banks in supporting gold prices. Monthly net purchases by central banks remained robust, with China’s People’s Bank leading the way, making its 12th consecutive monthly addition to gold reserves.

Shayne Heffernan

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