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Gold Prices Increase 13.5% YTD: 4 Market Outperformers

Gold futures for August delivery are currently around $2,343 per ounce, delivering a year-to-date rise of 13.5%. Gold is currently at two-week highs, buoyed by lackluster U.S. economic data that has led to expectations of interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve this year. So far in 2024, gold has been consistently above the $2,000-per-ounce mark, surging to an unprecedented high of $2,449.50 in May. Several factors have contributed to this upward trajectory, including increased geopolitical tensions, a depreciating U.S. dollar, the potential for monetary policy easing and continuous purchasing by central banks. The prospects for the Zacks Mining - Gold industry look optimistic, supported by the momentum in gold prices. We suggest keeping a tab on companies like Harmony Gold (NYSE: HMY), Eldorado Gold (NYSE: EGO), New Gold Inc. (AMEX:NGD) and Galiano Gold (AMEX:GAU), as these are well-poised for improvement, backed by their strong balance sheets, efforts to lower costs and growth initiatives. Weak U.S Data Work in Favor of Gold Per the  U.S. Census Bureau's latest report, retail and foodservices sales in the United States inched up 0.1% in May 2024 from April 2024. On a year-over-year basis, sales rose 2.3%. This weaker-than-expected performance indicates that consumers are grappling with stubbornly higher levels of inflation. The market is currently pricing in about a 66% chance of a Fed rate cut in September, which has aided gold prices lately. The Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index languished in contraction territory for a consecutive 16 months until February 2024. Even though it saw a slight uptick to 50.3% in March, the index slipped to the contraction territory again in April with a 49.2% reading. It further decelerated to 48.7% in May. This continued weakness in the manufacturing sector has contributed to heightened economic uncertainty, boosting investor interest in gold as a safe-haven asset and thereby hiking gold prices. Demand & Supply Imbalance to Support Prices Central banks, particularly China, have been ramping up reserves held in gold due to currency depreciation, and geopolitical and economic risks. In 2022, central banks added 1,082 tons of gold, marking the highest annual purchase on record. This was followed by 1,037 tons of gold purchases in 2023, which was the second highest. According to the 70 responses to the 2024 Central Bank Gold Reserves survey, 29% of central banks have plans to increase their gold reserves in the next 12 months. This is the highest projection since the initiation of the survey in 2018. The use of ...