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Gold shines amid geopolitical uncertainties

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This blog post is part of a special series based on the April 2024 edition of Commodity Market Outlook, a flagship report published by the World Bank. This series features concise summaries of commodity-specific sections extracted from the report. Explore the full report here.

The World Bank’s precious metals price index climbed 9 percent in April 2024 (m/m), continuing its upward trajectory from the first quarter. Gold reached a new nominal record in April, while silver approached its early 2021 record. Platinum prices also rebounded during the month. Strong demand, fueled by heightened geopolitical tensions, has been supporting the price surge. The index is expected to increase by 8 percent in 2024 compared to 2023. Stronger gold demand from emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs), amid heightened geopolitical uncertainty, is a key upside price risk. Conversely, sluggish industrial activity in major economies could weaken demand, and hence prices, for silver and platinum.

Gold prices reached an all-time nominal high of $2,331 per troy ounce in April. The surge builds on a 7 percent increase in the first quarter of 2024 (q/q), continuing a period of elevated prices that began in 2020. Recent price increases have been supported by strong demand from several EMDE central banks and increased activity in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in China, amid heightened geopolitical uncertainty. As a safe-haven asset, gold often increases in price during periods of elevated geopolitical tensions and policy uncertainty. Record central bank buying—led by China, India, and Türkiye—bolstered gold demand in the first quarter of 2024. Notable, China’s central bank extended its gold purchases for the 17th consecutive month in March 2024, setting a record for the longest reported streak of monthly purchases. In contrast, demand from the jewelry, technology, and investment sectors remained subdued in 2024Q1. Gold prices are expected to be 8 percent higher in 2024 compared to 2023, supported by continued robust demand from EMDE central banks, retail investment (where gold jewelry serves as a quasi-investment in some countries), and strong safe-haven demand.

Silver prices surged by 12 percent in April 2024 (m/m), following a period of relative stability in the first quarter. This recent increase in silver prices, mostly attributed to the recovery of industrial activity and some of the factors influencing gold prices, brought the gold-to-silver price ratio closer to its 10-year average. Modest growth in silver demand is anticipated for 2024, buoyed by industrial demand—from expanding vehicle electrification and the development of renewable energy infrastructure—as well as an expected recovery in jewelry and silverware demand. An anticipated increase in mine production from key sources such as Chile, Mexico, and Russia is expected to support supply growth in 2024. Silver prices are expected to increase 7 percent this year compared to 2023, with an additional 4 percent uptick forecasted for 2025.

Platinum prices rebounded in April 2024, rising by 3.5 percent after experiencing a slight dip in the first quarter. Following a 25 percent surge in demand in 2023, platinum demand is expected to moderate in 2024. This anticipated deceleration is due to modest growth in the automotive sector and jewelry demand, which together accounts for about 60 percent of global platinum demand, offset by a contraction in industrial demand—mostly driven by the fiberglass and petrochemical sectors. Nonetheless, platinum prices are likely to be supported by reduced production from Russia and South Africa, the world’s two largest platinum producers, as well as a drop in secondary (recycling) supply. As a result, platinum prices are expected to increase by 4 percent 2024, with a further 5 percent increase anticipated in 2025.

John Baffes

Senior Agriculture Economist, Development Economics Prospects Group

Jeetendra Khadan

Senior Economist with the World Bank’s Prospects Group

Kaltrina Temaj

Research Analyst, Prospects Group, World Bank

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