Gold hit a record high on Monday as increasing numbers of nervous investors sought a safe place to put their money.
Rising political tensions between the US and China joined the ever-present worries over the continuing coronavirus pandemic to boost the spot price to $1,944.92 an ounce,
Covid-19 cases have risen to more than 16 million globally.
Many investors shun gold as it doesn’t pay dividends or interest rates but it tends to rise in troubled times,
Interest rates are currently near zero and dividend returns from companies are uncertain at best, with so many struggling.
So far this year, gold prices have risen 28%.
Gold standards: The basics of investing in the yellow metal
As well as lacking in returns, investing in gold brings costs.
Adrian Ash, director of research at precious metals trader BullionVault, says storage (with insurance included) is 0.12% of the size of your investment per year.
Each bar weighs 400 Troy ounces (12.5kg) and is currently worth £600,000 at today’s prices, so that would cost about £60 per month. It’s trading in these large bars which creates the “spot” price everyone is suddenly talking about.
They’re how the wholesale industrial and investment gold markets move metal around, and any other form of gold you buy – whether a bracelet or a coin or the microchips in your smartphone – starts out in this large bar form, adding costs at every stage of manufacture.
He says though if you fancy visiting your haul, you can’t: “It’s hard to over-state the level of security at professional bullion vaults, and for the vast majority of people, being shown a shiny yellow brick wouldn’t prove much anyway.”
Mr Ash says his customers can though take their metal out from the vault if they wish: “We would arrange delivery, most usually in the form of smaller bars, although that necessarily triggers the extra manufacturing and shipping costs you otherwise avoid by owning wholesale bullion inside secure storage.”
Unlike shares and bonds, investors in physical gold products do not get any return on their investment. There are no dividends or interest rates and no protection against inflation and you pay to store it. The value simply rises and falls on investor demand.
A fall in the dollar is another factor that boosts the price of gold, which is quoted in the US currency. It means that buyers using other currencies can, in fact, be paying the same for their gold, as they are able to buy more dollars for their money.
In the latest development between the US and China, China took over the premises of the US consulate in the south western city of Chengdu. The move was in retaliation for the US closing down China’s diplomatic base in Houston, Texas.
This sent the dollar index to its lowest since September 2018.
The US central bank, the Federal Reserve, is meeting this week to decide on monetary policy.
Mihir Kapadia, head of Sun Global Investments, thinks that could also help boost the price further: “With eyes on the upcoming Fed policy meeting later this week and more concerns over geopolitical tensions, further gains can be expected with these factors likely to weigh heavily on the stock markets for a few more weeks to come.”
Fellow precious metal silver was also higher, it rose more than 6% to $24.36, its highest since September 2013.