NEW YORK ( TheStreet ) -- Gold prices have risen more than 10% in 2010, closing Wednesday at $1,241 an ounce. Rising unemployment in the U.S., import slowdown in China, weak global economic data and a struggling eurozone have triggered gold's recent surge, but those issues don't tell the whole story.
Gold prices have regained speed in the past weeks as Cisco's CEO John Chambers hinted at a double-dip recession, and a slew of economic data including rising weekly initial jobless claims have brought into question the health of the U.S. economy, which has trumped any merger news and positive earnings. Gold prices have rallied 5% in August during a typically slow buying season while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 4%.
Gold prices are volatile, however. When equities plummet, investors are often forced to sell gold for cash, but any significant dip triggers a wave of buying as investors purchase gold at "discount" prices resulting in a strong tug-of-war for prices. Aside from recent market jitters, there are five other fundamental factors that contribute to gold's strong price moves.
5. Price ManipulationPrice manipulation is the most controversial theory that has circulated among gold bugs for 20 years. Some argue that gold prices have been illegally suppressed over the last two decades by central banks and governments. GATA or Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee is the biggest complainant. Central banks reportedly have 32,000 tons gold, with the International Monetary Fund accounting for 2,800 tons. Under the Washington Agreement on Gold, its members can sell a maximum of 400 tons a year, thereby restricting the amount of gold in the open market place. GATA argues that central banks in actuality have less than 15,000 tons of gold, and that the missing gold has been secretly sold or leased into the market to prevent gold prices from rising to their actual value, which should be between $3,000 to $5,000 an ounce.