(Bloomberg News) Gold's 12-year rally, the longest in at least nine decades, is poised to continue in 2013 as central bank stimulus spurs investors from John Paulson to George Soros to accumulate the highest combined bullion holdings ever.
The metal will rise every quarter next year and average $1,925 an ounce in the final three months, or 11 percent more than now, according to the median of 16 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Paulson & Co. has a $3.67 billion bet through the SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest gold-backed exchange- traded product, and Soros Fund Management LLC increased its holdings by 49 percent in the third quarter, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings show.
Central banks from Europe to China are pledging more steps to boost growth, raising concern about inflation and currency devaluation. Investors bought 247.5 metric tons through ETPs this year, exceeding annual U.S. mine output. While both sides said talks Nov. 16 between President Barack Obama and Congress over the so-called fiscal cliff were "constructive," the Congressional Budget Office has warned the U.S. risks a recession if spending cuts and tax rises aren't resolved.
"We see gold as a hedge against the follies of politicians," said Michael Mullaney, who helps manage $9.5 billion of assets as chief investment officer at Fiduciary Trust in Boston. "It's a good time to garner some protection in portfolios by having some real asset like gold."
Gold advanced 11 percent to $1,731.10 in London this year, headed for a 12th consecutive annual gain, the longest streak in data compiled by Bloomberg going back to 1920. Prices reached a record $1,921.15 in September 2011. The Standard & Poor's GSCI gauge of 24 commodities gained 0.7 percent and the MSCI All- Country World Index of equities climbed 8 percent. Treasuries returned 2.7 percent, a Bank of America Corp. index shows.
Bullion held through ETPs, the first of which listed in 2003, reached a record 2,604.2 tons yesterday, valued at $144.9 billion. That exceeds the official reserves of every nation except the U.S. and Germany, World Gold Council data show. The SPDR Gold Trust alone holds 1,342.2 tons.
Soros increased his investment in the trust to 1.32 million shares in the third quarter, the most since 2010, a Nov. 14 SEC filing showed. The stake, with each share representing about a 10th of an ounce, is valued at $221.7 million. Prices advanced 60 percent since January 2010, when Soros called gold the "ultimate asset bubble." Michael Vachon, a spokesman for the 82-year-old who made $1 billion breaking the Bank of England's defense of the pound in 1992, declined to comment.
Paulson, who became a billionaire in 2007 by wagering against the subprime mortgage market, owns 21.8 million shares in the SPDR Gold Trust, making him the biggest shareholder, a Nov. 15 SEC filing showed. The 56-year-old raised his stake by 26 percent in the second quarter and his holding of about 66 tons exceeds the official reserves of nations from Brazil to Bulgaria to Bolivia.
The New York-based hedge fund company reduced its investments in Anglogold Ashanti Ltd. and Gold Fields Ltd., the third- and fourth-biggest producers. Armel Leslie of Walek & Associates, a spokesman for Paulson's fund, declined to comment.
Paul Touradji's Touradji Capital Management LP sold all of its 82,000 shares in the SPDR Gold Trust in the third quarter, according to an SEC filing. Lone Pine Capital LLC, the hedge fund run by Stephen Mandel Jr., cut its stake by 31 percent to 2.6 million shares, and Dan Loeb's Third Point LLC lowered its bet by 10 percent to 130,000 shares, filings showed last week. Officials from all three companies declined to comment.
While some investors expect stimulus to devalue currencies, the median of nine strategist estimates compiled by Bloomberg show the U.S. Dollar Index, a measure against six major trading partners, will average 82.8 next year, from 80.9 now. Steven Englander, Citigroup Inc.'s head of G-10 strategy, said in an interview this month that the currency market is signaling it isn't yet convinced the Federal Reserve will fulfill its pledge to pump record amounts of cash into the economy through 2015.