The fundamentals of the global gold market could point to modestly higher prices in 2015, according to a commodities analyst.
Victor Thianpiriya, commodity strategist at ANZ Bank, expects gold prices to average around $1,238 per ounce for 2015, an increase of over 3.5% from 2 January's spot price, which hovered at $1,194.10 at midday.
Thianpiriya, in ANZ's 2015 outlook report, published last month, also said the Australian bank expects Chinese demand for physical gold to remain consistent in 2015, but that prices needed to move up to attract new buyers to the market place.
Another positive for the Asian gold market for 2015 was the fact that the Indian government, in November 2014, revoked its import restrictions, which he said should "significantly change the landscape" of that market.
While ANZ has not ruled out any new gold import curbs in India, lower crude oil prices will give New Delhi time to find the right balance. The analyst explained that a proposal that sounded promising was gold quota restrictions.
China and India are the world's top two bullion consumers.
While Asian demand will continue to have a considerable impact on the gold market, the US dollar's strength will be crucial to the price of the precious metal in 2015, Thianpiriya added.
"Gold has priced in a lot of the downside already. If you have a long-term investment horizon then I think gold represents a good buy at this time.
"Our core view for gold and the precious metals complex is that the potential for a recovery in prices through 2015 is much better than it was this year, despite the expected lift-off of the US Fed Funds rate."
"The positive effects of a strengthening euro on the gold price may not be prevalent until the second half of the year.
"While we may not see ETFs add aggressively to holdings in 2015, a continued slowing of redemptions will be a positive factor," Thianpiriya added.
Gold Ends Lower
US gold futures for delivery in February finished $2.10 higher at $1,186.20 an ounce on 2 January, in post-holiday trade.
But the yellow metal finished lower for the week as a whole, its third consecutive weekly loss.
Gold futures finished 2014 some 2% lower.
Not everybody shares Thianpiriya's optimism.
Bank of Cyprus said in a 31 December note: "Gold prices reached their low of $1,142 in November…after reaching a peak of $1,392 in March. Gold is mainly perceived as an inflation hedge. The [US Federal Reserve] looking ahead in increasing interest rates later on this year and as expectations are running high for the US economy overall, as the US dollar is gaining versus other major currencies, these are factors to limit any upside move on gold.
"Demand dynamics are most likely to soften from China but we cannot say the same from India. Nevertheless, we see no apparent factors that will pull gold's price on the upside. As the macroeconomic outlook from the US and other major economies is getting more stable, gold's 'safe haven bid' will fade away.
"We remain negative on gold with a negative bias," the Bank of Cyprus added.