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Explained: How Interest Rate Hikes Affect Gold’s Price

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Interest Rate Effect on Gold Price

Explained: How Interest Rate Hikes Affect Gold’s Price

Nearly every major market is affected by rate hikes from the U.S. Federal Reserve, and gold is no exception.

While rising interest rates bring macroeconomic headwinds for equity valuations, gold has had a special relationship with interest rates in recent hikes.

This graphic uses data from the World Gold Council to show how gold, U.S. stocks, and the U.S. dollar have historically performed around interest rate hikes.

What are Interest Rates?

The target federal funds rate, often referred to in media coverage more broadly as “interest rates,” is a projected overnight lending rate for banks and credit unions set by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Banks and credit unions need to hold a certain amount of cash reserves at the end of each day, so they lend and borrow from each other overnight to ensure they meet reserve requirements (or get some extra income by lending excess cash).

The target federal funds rate gives an interest rate range of 0.25% that banks and credit unions must be within when determining interest rates for these overnight loans.

When the Federal Reserve wants to curb excess spending and inflation, it raises interest rates and implements tighter monetary policy, marking the beginnings of a “tightening cycle.” This goes on to have knock-on effects on nearly every business or public-facing interest rate, and in turn, nearly every asset.

How Do Assets Perform After Rate Hikes?

As rates rise during tightening cycles, holding onto and lending out cash becomes more profitable, often resulting in investors de-risking by selling assets like stocks and bonds.

During these times, investors also seek out uncorrelated assets that are uniquely connected to these macroeconomic factors, often turning to gold.

While gold underperforms compared to U.S. stocks and the dollar leading up to rate hikes, past tightening cycles saw gold hit new all-time highs in the 2000s.

Median Asset Return Compared to Interest Rate Hikes1 Year Before6 Months Before6 Months After1 Year After
Gold+1%-7%+11%+7.5%
U.S. Stocks+14%+6%+4%+6%
U.S. Dollar0%+3%-4%+2%

Source: World Gold Council

In December of 2015, Janet Yellen’s first rate hike marked gold’s bottom at $1,050 an ounce, right before the precious metal nearly doubled to all-time highs.

In the previous tightening cycle, which began with Alan Greenspan’s interest rate hike in June of 2004, similarly marked a bottom for gold at $380 an ounce. After, gold’s price rallied by 400% through both rising and falling interest rates, reaching just above $1,900 an ounce in 2011.

The upcoming tightening cycle in 2022 is expected to be aggressive, with Goldman Sachs raising their forecasted number of 25 basis point (0.25%) rate hikes this year from five to seven.

While gold’s price has chopped around the $1,700–1,900 range for more than the past year, the start of this new tightening cycle could be the catalyst that spurs the next gold bull run.

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Visualizing Global Gold Production in 2023

Gold production in 2023 was led by China, Australia, and Russia, with each outputting over 300 tonnes.

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Graphic breaking down global gold production in 2023

Visualizing Global Gold Production in 2023

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Over 3,000 tonnes of gold were produced globally in 2023.

In this graphic, we list the world’s leading countries in terms of gold production. These figures come from the latest USGS publication on gold statistics (published January 2024).

China, Australia, and Russia Produced the Most Gold in 2023

China was the top producer in 2023, responsible for over 12% of total global production, followed by Australia and Russia.

CountryRegion2023E Production (tonnes)
🇨🇳 ChinaAsia370
🇦🇺 AustraliaOceania310
🇷🇺 RussiaEurope310
🇨🇦 CanadaNorth America200
🇺🇸 United StatesNorth America170
🇰🇿 KazakhstanAsia130
🇲🇽 MexicoNorth America120
🇮🇩 IndonesiaAsia110
🇿🇦 South AfricaAfrica100
🇺🇿 UzbekistanAsia100
🇬🇭 GhanaAfrica90
🇵🇪 PeruSouth America90
🇧🇷 BrazilSouth America60
🇧🇫 Burkina FasoAfrica60
🇲🇱 MaliAfrica60
🇹🇿 TanzaniaAfrica60
🌍 Rest of World-700

Gold mines in China are primarily concentrated in eastern provinces such as Shandong, Henan, Fujian, and Liaoning. As of January 2024, China’s gold mine reserves stand at an estimated 3,000 tonnes, representing around 5% of the global total of 59,000 tonnes.

In addition to being the top producer, China emerged as the largest buyer of the yellow metal for the year. In fact, the country’s central bank alone bought 225 tonnes of gold in 2023, according the World Gold Council.

Estimated Global Gold Consumption

Most of the gold produced in 2023 was used in jewelry production, while another significant portion was sold as a store of value, such as in gold bars or coins.

  • Jewelry: 46%
  • Central Banks and Institutions: 23%
  • Physical Bars: 16%
  • Official Coins, Medals, and Imitation Coins: 9%
  • Electrical and Electronics: 5%
  • Other: 1%

According to Fitch Solutions, over the medium term (2023-2032), global gold mine production is expected to grow 15%, as high prices encourage investment and output.

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Charted: The Value Gap Between the Gold Price and Gold Miners

While gold prices hit all-time highs, gold mining stocks have lagged far behind.

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Line chart comparing gold price and gold mining stocks since 2000.

Gold Price vs. Gold Mining Stocks

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on Apple or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Although the price of gold has reached new record highs in 2024, gold miners are still far from their 2011 peaks.

In this graphic, we illustrate the evolution of gold prices since 2000 compared to the NYSE Arca Gold BUGS Index (HUI), which consists of the largest and most widely held public gold production companies. The data was compiled by Incrementum AG.

Mining Stocks Lag Far Behind

In April 2024, gold reached a new record high as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell signaled policymakers may delay interest rate cuts until clearer signs of declining inflation materialize.

Additionally, with elections occurring in more than 60 countries in 2024 and ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, central banks are continuing to buy gold to strengthen their reserves, creating momentum for the metal.

Traditionally known as a hedge against inflation and a safe haven during times of political and economic uncertainty, gold has climbed over 11% so far this year.

According to Business Insider, gold miners experienced their best performance in a year in March 2024. During that month, the gold mining sector outperformed all other U.S. industries, surpassing even the performance of semiconductor stocks.

Still, physical gold has outperformed shares of gold-mining companies over the past three years by one of the largest margins in decades.

YearGold PriceNYSE Arca Gold BUGS Index (HUI)
2023$2,062.92$243.31
2022$1,824.32$229.75
2021$1,828.60$258.87
2020$1,895.10$299.64
2019$1,523.00$241.94
2018$1,281.65$160.58
2017$1,296.50$192.31
2016$1,151.70$182.31
2015$1,060.20$111.18
2014$1,199.25$164.03
2013$1,201.50$197.70
2012$1,664.00$444.22
2011$1,574.50$498.73
2010$1,410.25$573.32
2009$1,104.00$429.91
2008$865.00$302.41
2007$836.50$409.37
2006$635.70$338.24
2005$513.00$276.90
2004$438.00$215.33
2003$417.25$242.93
2002$342.75$145.12
2001$276.50$65.20
2000$272.65$40.97

Among the largest companies on the NYSE Arca Gold BUGS Index, Colorado-based Newmont has experienced a 24% drop in its share price over the past year. Similarly, Canadian Barrick Gold also saw a decline of 6.5% over the past 12 months.

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