The Fed Didn’t Cut Rates - Is Gold a Good Buy Now?

NEWS & TRENDING - INVESTING NEWS
Gold is usually an obvious choice during high interest rates, but the recent Fed meeting makes the decision a little harder.
Updated July 18, 2024
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The Federal Reserve opted not to cut rates right now, creating ripples in the financial markets. Weary consumers and investors awaiting relief in interest rates will need to wait a while longer as the strain on personal finances might continue. 

Many are also questioning whether now is a good time to purchase gold, which is typically a safe haven investment during times of financial difficulty.

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Behind the Fed's decision

The Federal Reserve's decision to maintain current interest rates came with nuances that impacted various financial markets. Gold, in particular, stood its ground despite a stronger dollar. The Fed's announcement included a likely dismissal of rate cuts in the spring, which led to a 0.4% increase in the dollar's value. However, this made gold less appealing to overseas buyers.

Markets did not react well to the Fed’s decision. News of delayed rate cuts pushed the S&P 500 index to close at daily lows, down 1.6%, marking the worst session since September 20, 2023. The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 also declined, closing down 1.94% with its worst day since October of last year.

Despite these shifts, investors still remain hopeful for rate cuts later this year.

Rates likely to decrease later this year

While the Fed's decision was to hold rates steady, there's a prevailing expectation of rate adjustments later in the year. The CME FedWatch Tool suggests a substantial 92% chance of a rate cut in May.

The hawkish stance taken by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell indicates a reluctance to consider trimming rates too soon, citing ongoing inflation concerns. However, the market seems to anticipate rate adjustments by May, with Goldman Sachs even forecasting a total of five rate cuts in 2024.

Why people buy gold when rates fall

Amid the intricacies of interest rates and market dynamics, an interesting phenomenon emerges when interest rates make moves — people tend to turn to gold when rates fall.

This inverse correlation is rooted in the principle that lower interest rates make investments like stocks and bonds more appealing. In contrast, gold, traditionally considered a safe-haven asset, becomes more attractive as the opportunity cost of holding it decreases. 

While historical returns suggest this relationship, it's crucial to note that past performance doesn't guarantee future results.

Historical returns and correlation

Historically, gold has exhibited a negative correlation with interest rates. When rates go down, gold prices tend to go up, and vice versa. This pattern arises from the shift in investor preferences when alternative assets become more or less appealing. 

For instance, as interest rates rise, the opportunity cost of holding non-interest-bearing gold increases, leading to a potential decrease in demand and prices. Conversely, when rates fall, gold becomes more attractive, sparking higher demand and potentially boosting prices.

Should you buy gold now?

Gold is a great way to diversify any investment portfolio, and is considered a safe haven investment during times of political strife, war, or economic turmoil. It’s important to remember that gold is not an income-producing asset like some other assets such as bonds, stocks, or ETFs might be if they pay a dividend. The only profit to be realized on gold happens when it is sold, so investors need to be wary of this opportunity cost if they choose to hold it in their portfolios.

Gold has been a fairly bulletproof investment since 2022 amid political conflicts throughout the world and high interest rates. The investment now becomes more complicated with the Fed clearly holding rates tight until at least late spring, but with markets highly convinced that rates will fall by at least June. 

This means if you’re interested in purchasing gold now, it will be crucial that you are aware of the impending price movements as there is a lot of anticipated change in the next 5 months.

Bottom line

The Fed's decision not to cut rates has set the stage for intricate market dynamics. As the year progresses, the anticipation of rate cuts and their potential impact on various assets, including gold, adds an element of uncertainty. Investors should closely monitor the evolving economic landscape, considering factors like inflation, employment data, and global developments. 

While historical patterns suggest a relationship between gold and interest rates, it's essential to approach such correlations with caution, acknowledging that market conditions can vary. As you navigate these financial waters, staying informed and adapting to changing scenarios will be key to making informed decisions and your ultimate best shot at building wealth.

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Author Details

Georgina Tzanetos Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who has been active in financial media for the past six years. She holds a master's in political economy from NYU, where she studied distressed labor markets.