Gold_Outlook_Heavy_on_Improving_Growth_Prospects-_1693_Key_Resistance_body_Picture_1.png, Gold Outlook Heavy on Improving Growth Prospects- 1693 Key Resistance

Gold Outlook Heavy on Improving Growth Prospects- 1693 Key Resistance

Fundamental Forecast for Gold: Bearish

Gold is virtually flat this week with the precious metal posting a fractional advance to trade at $1668 at the close of trade in New York on Friday. Prices have been largely range bound since the open of February trade with risk in the near-term weighted to the downside on improving growth prospects for the US economy and relatively stable inflation expectations. Broader risk appetite remained well supported ahead of the weekend after stronger than expected trade balance data out of China and the US saw major equity indices close just off the weekly highs leaving the yellow metal under pressure amid a broader rebound in the greenback.

The outlook for monetary policy has been a main driver of gold prices as improving economic data and central bank rhetoric continue to suggest that the domestic recovery is gathering pace. Indeed this week we did hear from Chicago Fed President Charles Evans, a known dove, that the central bank may look to 'turn off' its easing cycle prior to achieving a 7% unemployment threshold as discouraged workers return to the labor force and the outlook for growth and inflation picks up. Earlier in the week FOMC voting member Elizabeth Duke also noted that she remained 'optimistic' on the US economy amid the resilience in private sector consumption and the budding recovery in the housing market. As the central bank's dovish tone continues to soften, gold prices may see limited upside as inflation concerns abate on expectations the Fed may look end QE operations later in 2013.

Looking ahead to next week, traders will be closely eying retail sales, consumer confidence and industrial production data as investors attempt to ascertain the health of the US consumer and its impact on Fed policy. With gold prices holding a tight range in February trade, an inevitable break-out of this range is likely over the next week as the precious metal continues to hold just above the 200-day moving average at $1663.

From a technical standpoint, gold has continued to trade within the confines of a well-defined descending channel formation dating back to the October highs with critical resistance seen holding at the long-term 61.8% Fibonacci extension taken from the December 2011 and May 2012 lows at $1693.So long as this level is respected, gold remains at risk for further declines with a break below trendline support dating back to the June 28th low (currently around $1660) exposing key support at the 61.8% retracement taken from the rally off the 2011 low (lowest level of the move off the record high) at $1626. This level remains paramount for the yellow metal and if compromised, opens up the floor to declines into the $1585 region. Note that daily RSI has continued to hold below the 50-threshold with a move below 40 reaffirming the downtrend off the October highs. -MB