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All that glitters is gold

GoldHaving reached their 10-year historical peak, gold prices are getting dizzier at the top. Yet, given the unyielding demand generated by punters, investors, and consumers alike, prices are seen stubborn in the days ahead. Soaring inflation amid weak global economic indicators has made gold quite enchanting - a tradition that has its roots in time immemorial. By the end of the second quarter this year, global gold demand stood at 919.8 tons, down by 17 percent year-on-year, according to World Gold Council. However, in value terms, gold demand surged five percent to reach $44.5 billion. Almost half the pull came from the jewellery segment with buyers from India, China, Saudi Arabia and USA topping the list. These four countries together made up 46 percent of the world demand. Indias mushrooming economy, up-coming festivals and better-than-expected harvest is expected to further strengthen sales. Meanwhile, as world equity markets collapse and the European debt crisis creates ripples across countries, demand for gold-backed ETFs has also increased in the past few years, experiencing a 152 percent zoom in 2008. Investors flock to safer havens like gold, as US Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) yields fall to its sixty year lows. Demand for technological uses of the metal remained more or less unaffected; whereas physical demand for bars and coins rose by 42 percent in 2QCY11 over the same period last year. Yet again, India and China dominated this rush. Mine production was the only positive contributor to the gold supply, increasing by a modest seven percent in 2QCY11. However, the price of the metal is hardly determined by the equilibrium of demand and supply, as the bull-run is largely driven by speculation. Analysts compare the recent ascent to the commodities boom of 1980s, when gold prices spiked to reach a record high of $850 per ounce, only to plummet soon and settle within $300-$400 for some years to come. Adjusting for inflation, this record still stands waiting to be broken, which in other words, means 2000-dollar-prophecy may well come true. So long, wedding revelers.


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