Gold rush: The yellow metal is soaring again

Gold often does well during times of turmoil. So is it any surprise that the price of the yellow metal is up 13% this year and approaching $1,300 an ounce?

Qatar. The latest terror attacks in London. The upcoming U.K. election. More drama in the Trump administration as former FBI director James Comey is set to testify in front of Congress Thursday.

Is that enough turmoil for you?

All of these geopolitical concerns are helping to lift gold prices. They rose an additional 1% on Tuesday.

Some think gold could climb even higher, especially if Qatar and other nations in the Middle East continue to feud. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and others have cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar, which they have accused of sponsoring terrorism.

Ding Yao, an analyst with ThinkMarkets in London, said in a report that “the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Qatar could change the shape of the Middle East” and has the potential to push gold to $1,350 an ounce “if the tensions continue to escalate.”

The spike in gold is happening as the U.S. dollar continues to weaken and long-term Treasury bond yields slip as well.

A decline in the value of the dollar tends to be a good sign for gold.

Fans of the yellow metal often point out that gold is not as subject to the whims of politicians and central bankers since it’s not a paper currency. The supply of gold is determined by what’s in the ground, not a government printing press.

What’s more, the price of digital currency bitcoin is soaring too. It was only last week that bitcoin prices topped $2,000 for the first time. They are now approaching $3,000.

These are potential signs that investors are also starting to get nervous about the U.S. economy, especially after the government reported last Friday that fewer jobs were added in May than expected, and job gains for prior months were revised lower.

The U.S. stock market still remains near all-time highs despite these worries. But investors may be coming to the conclusion that having exposure to assets like gold that could do well if stocks go down isn’t the worst idea in the world.

“Investors are hedging their bets to some degree. There are some potential negative surprises lurking,” said Lisa Kopp, head of traditional investments at U.S. Bank’s Private Client Reserve.

One big concern? Consumer debt levels are rising again — and are even above 2008 levels.

This doesn’t mean that another financial collapse like the one the global economy suffered nine years ago is nigh. But it does mean that the U.S. economy may not wind up roaring back to life anytime soon.

Analysts at research firm Incrementum wrote in a report last week that worries about a sluggish economy, coupled with the highly uncertain and volatile political landscape in Washington should push gold even higher.

“The rally in the precious metals sector has probably only just begun,” the Incrementum analysts wrote, adding that “the election of probably the most unpredictable U.S. president of all time” is another reason why this gold rush may not be over yet.