Japan’s grannies drive up gold prices

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

Gold has soared to a fresh 28-year high of $760 (£372) an ounce on fears of global currency disorder and a surge of buying by Japanese investors using exotic trading signals.

Traders report a sudden burst of activity on the TOCOM gold futures markets in Tokyo as the price breaks through the psychological barrier of 3,000 yen (£12.52) per gramme, the measure used by the Japanese to trade gold.

The country’s irrepressible grannies rely heavily on Ichimoku “cloud charts”, multi-faceted indicators designed to give support/resistance levels in various markets, which have issued a powerful buy signal in recent days.

John Reade, head of precious metals at UBS, said the Japan can be a major driver of the gold price. “Japanese buying can come out of the blue, but it is too soon yet to tell whether they are about to take over the gold market,” he said. “When the Japanese public move in with reckless abandon, everybody else gets out of the way. They can be the last to join the rally.”

The fresh interest in gold comes as the yen renews its slide, hit by signs that the economy may be tipping back into deflation after the housing collapse during the summer. Housing starts fell 23.4pc in July and 43.4pc in August as new laws came into effect. The Bank of Japan has signalled that it will keep interest rates at 0.5pc for the foreseeable future, inviting funds to step up borrowing in Tokyo to chase higher yields elsewhere through the global “carry trade”.

Rising inflation across China, India, the Middle East, eastern Europe and Latin America have all created the backdrop for a major move in gold. Citigroup said a global “reflation rally” caused by cuts in US interest rates could push prices above $1,000 an ounce.

UBS has upgraded its long-term forecast, but is cautious for now. “The net long positions on the US futures markets are at all-time highs. They have been at extreme levels for four weeks and when that happens you can be sure there will be a correction. It could be any time now,” said Mr Reade.