Gold jumped out of the gate on Tuesday following a long weekend for North American markets, adding more than $22 an ounce in heavy buying.
Gold for delivery in April, the most active futures contract, reached a high of $1,345 an ounce, the highest in 10 months after more than 32m ounces changed hands in New York.
Institutional and retail investors have piled into gold in recent months. Holdings in global gold-backed ETFs rose 72 tonnes in January to reach 2,513 tonnes (80.8m troy ounces), hitting the highest levels in nearly six years, according to data from the World Gold Council (WGC).
In dollar terms, net inflows in January equaled $3.1B with the value of gold held in ETF vaults reaching just shy of $107B by the end of the month, a 6% increase.
January was the fourth consecutive month of net inflows, according to WGC data and thanks to a blockbuster December 2018, 185 tonnes, or $8B was injected into the scores of funds listed around the world over the past four months.
The bullish sentiment is also evident in the results of the survey by the London Bullion Market Association of 30 analysts’ predictions for the gold price in 2019. Two-thirds of those polled believed gold will either reach or exceed $1,400 this year.
Bloomberg reports analysts at Société Générale, a French investment bank with a long history of commodity investment, recommend buying both gold and gold mining stocks this year, saying the precious metal should “break free” in 2019 amid a scarcity of safe havens.
Central banks have also been stocking up on bullion. Last week China reported an increase in official sector holdings for the second successive month after two years without communicating the state of its vaults.
Globally, central bank demand for gold soared to 651 tonnes in 2018, 74% higher year over year and the highest level since the US eliminated the gold standard.