Skip to main content

The gold bulls are running again, hoping a short-term boost from the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank can be translated into a longer-term rally for the precious metal.

The spot price of gold rallied strongly on Monday after U.S. regulators enacted a series of emergency measures after the failure of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank in New York.

Gold ended at US$1,913.24 an ounce on Monday, having gained 4.5 per cent since its close on March 9, and closing in on the high so far in 2023 of US$1,959.60 on Feb. 2.

The rally was driven by investors buying into gold Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), with the largest such vehicle, the SPDR Gold Trust, reporting that its holdings rose 1.31 per cent on Monday to 913.27 tonnes from 901.42 tonnes on March 10.

This is equivalent to 29.03 million ounces, but it’s worth noting that the SPDR holdings have been in a declining trend since April last year, when they peaked at 35.58 million ounces.

The broader question for the gold market is whether worries of a wider contagion in U.S. financial markets will persist, or whether the actions of the Federal Reserve and the move by President Joe Biden to assuage fears will prevent the spread.

Even if the market is reassured that the problem is limited to the two collapsed banks, there may be implications that are positive for the price of gold.

Any suggestion the Federal Reserve will pare back its current tightening of monetary policy is likely to be a longer-term positive for gold, especially if this occurs before the market is confident high inflation is tamed.

So far it appears gold is once again fulfilling its traditional role as a safe haven against volatility and risk, but it’s probably too early to say the current buying will persist.

Nonetheless, the likely ramifications of the bank collapse are positive for gold, which was already being supported by other bullish factors.


Chief among those is the expectation that physical demand will rebound in China, traditionally the world’s largest consumer of the precious metal.

China’s economy is recovering from the now abandoned strict zero-COVID policies that crimped growth last year, and there is likely some pent-up demand for gold jewellery, bars and coins that provides upside for demand.

China’s gold jewellery demand slumped 14 per cent, or 101 tonnes, to 598.3 tonnes in 2022, according to data from industry group the World Gold Council.

This meant China’s jewellery demand dropped below that of India, which saw demand of 600.4 tonnes in 2022, a decline of 2 per cent from the prior year.

This was the first time since 2011 India’s jewellery demand exceeded that of China, indicating there is plenty of upside should the expectations for a rebound in China’s economy come to fruition.

The outlook for India is also fairly upbeat as the country’s economy continues to perform strongly, with gross domestic product expected to rise 7 per cent in the current 2022-23 fiscal year ending March 31.

China and India play an outsize role in the physical gold jewellery market, accounting for about two-thirds of the global total in 2022, with the next biggest country being the United States, which had jewellery demand of 143.7 tonnes last year.

Central bank buying is the wild card for gold, having risen a strong 152 per cent in 2022 to 1,135.7 tonnes.

Whether this trend continues is difficult to predict, given that some of the biggest players in this space, such as China and Russia, provide little to zero public commentary on their intentions.

Overall, the risks for gold are skewed to the upside assuming investors are drawn back to gold as a hedge against risk and inflation, China and India boost their physical demand and central bank buying also holds up.

Be smart with your money. Get the latest investing insights delivered right to your inbox three times a week, with the Globe Investor newsletter. Sign up today.