Gold primed to soar in 2016, and here’s why
The light at the end of the tunnel continues to stay lit for gold. Prices for the precious metal posted the biggest one-day gain in more than 14 months on Monday, rising 3.5 percent--and briefly above $1,200 an ounce--to close at $1,197.90. As global financial markets continue to tumble the trend for gold could easily skyrocket in 2016.
“A strong risk-off sentiment is feeding into the gold market,” said James Steel, chief precious-metal analyst at HSBC Securities (USA) Inc.
According to The Wall Street Journal, "a fall in the dollar against other major currencies, sharp losses in equity markets across the board and a continuous slide in oil prices have contributed to investor jitters about the unsteady economic conditions and weakening corporate earnings, pushing investors to plow money into gold."
George Gero, a precious-metal strategist at RBC Capital Markets, said “it’s the fear of the unknowns” that is driving the demand for gold.
"The drive for gold today is purely tied to the risk type of trade," said Eli Tesfaye, senior market strategist for brokerage RJO Futures in Chicago. "People have to move their equities out of there, have to put (money) into safer assets."
The yellow metal, which has logged losses for three consecutive years, also has investors feeling bullish. Sushil Kedia, President of the Association of Technical Market Analysts (ATMA), believes gold prices will eventually double past $2,000 an ounce.
Other precious metals such as platinum, silver and palladium were also up. Prices for platinum rose 2.2 percent to $926.98, silver jumped 2.8 percent to $15.39 an ounce, and palladium reached $515.20 an ounce, up 2.9 percent.
Lithium producers bullish as EV revolution ramps demand
Rising demand for lithium is stoking prices for the electric vehicle battery metal, fueling long-delayed expansions that still may not produce adequate supplies that automakers need to meet aggressive production plans.
Growing industry optimism from higher lithium prices is a change from last year when funding for mines and processing plants dried up during the pandemic.
Albemarle Corp, Livent Corp and other producers are scrambling to make more lithium, but some analysts worry the recent price jump will not spur a big enough expansion to meet a planned wave of new EV models by mid-decade.
Since January, General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co LG Energy Solution and SK Innovation Co, along with other automakers and battery parts manufacturers, have said they will spend billions of dollars on EV plants.
U.S. President Joe Biden has proposed spending $174bn to boost EV sales and infrastructure. The European Union has similar plans, part of a rush to catch up with global EV leader China.
Those moves have helped an index of lithium prices jump 59 percent since April 2020, according to data from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, a commodity pricing provider.
The rising demand “reflects what feels like a real and fundamental turning point in our industry,” said Paul Graves, chief executive of Livent Corp, which supplies Tesla Inc. On Monday, it said it would more than double its annual lithium production to 115,000 tonnes.
Graves warned, though, that “it will be a challenge for the lithium industry to produce sufficient qualified material in the near and medium term.”
Albemarle, the world’s largest lithium producer, aims to double its production capacity to 175,000 tonnes by the end of the year when two construction projects are complete. Albemarle's Q1 profit beat expectations thanks to rising lithium prices. Chile’s SQM, the No. 2 producer, said its goal to expand production of lithium carbonate by 71 percent to 120,000 tonnes should be complete by December.
Australia’s Orocobre is paying $1.4 billion for smaller rival Galaxy Resources, a strategy designed to boost scale and help it grow faster in regions closer to customers.
“The next few years are going to be critical in terms of whether there’s enough available lithium supply, and that’s why you’re starting to see commodity prices start to ramp,” said Chris Berry, an independent lithium industry consultant.
The price gains helped Albemarle and other major producers, including China’s Ganfeng Lithium Co and SQM, post big gains in first-quarter profit and boost forecasts for the year.
Even China’s Tianqi Lithium Corp, saddled with debt due to years of low lithium prices, signaled that recovering demand should help it swing to a profit this year.
Forecasts call for demand for the white metals to surge from about 320,000 tonnes annually last year to more than 1 million tonnes annually by 2025, when many automakers plan to launch new EV fleets, according to Benchmark.
Still, demand is expected to outstrip supply in 2025 by more than 200,000 tonnes, so lithium prices may need to rise to encourage producers to build more mines. That could boost the prices consumers pay for EVs. “Companies across the lithium-ion supply chain are in the best position they’ve been in for the last 5 years,” said Pedro Palandrani of the Global X Lithium & Battery Technology ETF , which has doubled in value in the past year.