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Rising Natural Interest Rates Putting Pressure on Gold

This article was originally published on ETFTrends.com.

The natural rate of interest, which reflects the rate of growth in gross domestic product relative to its trend rate and is used as a basis for comparison with market rates, is expected to rise, putting downward pressure on gold prices--a trend that could continue through the rest of 2018.

The downward pressure on the price of gold has been evident in gold ETFs like the  SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) , which has been trading below its 50-day moving average since the middle of April.

Rising Natural Interest Rates Putting Pressure on Gold 1

Conversely, within that same timeframe, the U.S. dollar is moving in the opposite direction as gold is typically viewed as a safe-haven asset in times of a depressed dollar.

Source: tradingeconomics.com

For gold investors, paying attention to the movement of natural interest rates is a must, according to Marcus Garvey, commodities strategist at ICBC Standard Bank. Right now, a notable oversight by the capital markets could be a lack of pricing in natural interest rates, which doesn't bode well for gold investors.

“In simple terms, r* is the short-term real interest rate when an economy is at full strength, with stable inflation,” said Garvey. “What stands out from a market perspective is that no real expectation for a higher r* is currently priced and that it would be a significantly bearish development for gold prices. Of course, r* may fail to recover and there are many other drivers of the gold price but, for long-term gold investors, developments in the long-run equilibrium U.S. interest rate need to be given considerable care and attention.”

Amid a backdrop of a GDP that increased by 4.2% in the last quarter and an extended bull run in the stock market, the Federal Reserve is expected to produce two more rate hikes in the federal funds rate by the end of 2018. Of course, that's the news that gold investors don't want to hear.

“The potential for an increase in r* to justify higher real rates is the one case which seems unambiguously bearish for gold. In this case, higher real rates would be justified by a higher trend growth rate and, therefore, a still positive backdrop for most risk assets,” said Garvey.

Related: Ray Dalio: ‘Two Years Left’ in Current Market Cycle

Job Data Pushes Treasury Yields Higher

U.S. job openings hit a record high in July as it nears the seven million mark with notable rises in vacancies within the finance and manufacturing sectors. Treasury yields rose across the board on this latest data reported by the Labor Department.

As of 2:30 p.m. ET, the benchmark 10-year yield went up to 2.977 as it inches towards the 3% yield marker. In the meantime, the 30-year yield went up to 3.122, while short-term yields showed the 2-year ticking higher to 2.748 and the 5-year to 2.869.

The number of vacancies outnumbered those classified as unemployed by 659,000 during July. Job openings rose by 117,000 from June to 6.94 million, which represents an increase of 737,000 over the past year.

In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the quits rate, which measures employees leaving their positions voluntarily, hit a new record of 3.6 million--a rise of 106,000 compared to the previous month. The current quits rate of 2.4 percent is the highest number recorded since April 2001.

“Mobility of workers between jobs boosts competition for talent and puts pressure on employers to offer better pay and benefits,” said Cathy Barrera, chief economist for online job site ZipRecruiter.

For more trends in fixed income, visit the Rising Rates Channel.