Tensions on the Korean peninsula have triggered a gold-buying frenzy in recent weeks, as investors latched on to the yellow metal’s safe-haven status. A renewed slump in the U.S. dollar is also shoring up precious metals by making them more affordable for users of foreign currency.
Gold for December settlement eclipsed $1,353.00 a troy ounce on Thursday, the highest level on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange since September 2016. Prices rose nearly 1% during the session to notch their seventh daily advance in the past nine. Over that period, bullion has seen its value rise by $60.
Gold’s latest rally is being propelled by fears of a military confrontation on the Korean peninsula after North Korea test launched a hydrogen bomb, its most powerful nuclear weapon to date. The state-run Korean Central News Agency said the bomb can be readily deployed into a new intercontinental ballistic missile, which is Pyongyang’s most powerful deterrent yet.
The Communist state is facing greater isolation in the wake of its latest missile test, with the United Nations Security Council condemning its nuclear program. The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting earlier this week, where members called for harsher sanctions against the state. United States Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said the latest provocation proves that Kim Jong Un is “begging for war.”
Investors rely on gold and other haven assets during times of economic and political uncertainty. This is commonly associated with a reduced appetite for risk, which often leads to a broad decline in stock prices.
That’s exactly what happened this past Tuesday after U.S. traders returned from the Labour Day holiday. Responding to the North Korea hydrogen bomb, investors pulled money from the major equity indices at the fastest pace in three weeks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 200 points, triggering a chain reaction in Europe and Asia the following session.
A falling U.S. dollar will keep precious metals elevated in the short term. The U.S. dollar index plunged on Thursday to its lowest level since January 2015. The index is down more than 10% since the start of 2017.
Associated Press (4 September 2017). “UN Security Council holds emergency meeting on North Korea.” ABC 7 New York.
Al-Jazeera (2 September 2017). “North Korea says it has missile-ready hydrogen bomb.”
Alex Veiga (5 September 2017). “US stocks slide to worst day in three weeks.” The News-Herald.