The investment prospects for gold throughout the end of 1988 remain uncertain despite the precious metal's strong recovery in late February and early March, bullion analysts report.
Last October's stock market crash sent a number of speculators looking for a safe haven, and most turned to precious metals, they said. But now that world stock markets have returned to relative stability, some speculators have withdrawn from gold, they added.The weaker dollar and lower oil prices also mean that the fear of inflation, especially in the United States, is less of a concern, at least temporarily. The result is a bearish effect, analysts said.
When gold neared the $500-per-ounce mark at the start of the year, central banks began selling it.
In the past, world crises have automatically drawn investors to precious metals, but in the past two years, the Gulf war or other major events elsewhere in the world did not lead to any wild fluctuations for gold prices.
The only event that had a noticeable effect was the attempted coup in South Africa's gold-rich tribal homeland territory of Bophuthatswana, the analysts said.
Gold output recently has been shifting. While South Africa has exported slightly less of the metal, North America and Australia have increased their production.
On a brighter note, there has been continued demand recently for gold in the Far East.
February exports for Japan were almost four times that of February 1987, to 41 metric tons, latest figures from the World Gold Council U.K. Gold Update showed.
"Since Black Monday (Last October's stock market crash)," explained Geoffrey Loades, general manager of World Gold Council U.K., "Japanese investors seeking long-term fund bases have steadily moved into gold."
I.J. Toshima, a manager at Tokyo's World Gold Council, cited the recent selling activity of gold in the West and purchase in the East as evidence of two distinct types of gold investor.
"It seems European and U.S. investors have dealer mentality," he said, "but Far Eastern investors have analysts' mentality."