Fed Will Be Gold’s Enemy
The Fed will continue its gradual tightening. In 2017, the U.S. central bank lifted interest rates three times. We expect similar number of hikes this year. The unwind of the Fed’s enormous balance sheet would withdraw some liquidity from the market, exerting an additional tightening effect for the financial conditions. Moreover, Jerome Powell will replace Janet Yellen as the Fed’s Chair. And we will also see a few other significant personal changes at the U.S. central bank. We predict, thus, that the FOMC will be more hawkish in 2018 than in 2017.
The Committee will include more hawks (due to the normal rotation among the regional Fed Presidents, Trump’s nomination to the Board of Governors), but also all the members could vote in a more hawkish way, given the strong economic momentum. A lot will depend on inflationary dynamics, but we believe that a modest hawkish shift is likely this year. Gold reacts more to the real interest rates, not to the federal funds rate, but the Fed’s hawkish rhetoric should be a headwind for the yellow metal.