NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Federal Reserve continues to push market expectations in one direction, then the next. The central question is whether or not we will see reductions in quantitative easing stimulus this September, and we have seen statements from Ben Bernanke which suggest a few different scenarios are possible.
This week, we will have additional clues, as the Fed chairman gives his semi-annual testimony before Congress. Bernanke's level of confidence in the U.S. economic recovery will determine the near-term direction in stocks, commodities and the U.S. dollar. For investors with exposure to gold in instruments like the SPDR Gold (GLD), gains will require a dovish outlook and an expressed willingness to maintain stimulus programs -- even if the labor market continues to improve at its current headline rate.
Most recently, this is the message that has been sent to the markets. For gold prices, accommodative policy suggestions have helped generate a short-term rally after the metal hit yearly lows near $1180 per ounce last month. Continued quantitative easing stimulus is supportive for precious metals, as it indicates declining Treasury rates, a weaker U.S. dollar, and upside inflation risks. But while Bernanke's testimony on May 22 suggested stimulus might continue, the Fed has also released timelines detailing potential exit strategies for these historic programs. For these reasons, we are now in an environment where the Fed's interpretation of macro data is much more important than the market's consensus expectation for those reports, and gold investors will need to place a larger focus on statements made by policymakers in order to gauge the next direction in valuations for the metal.
Bernanke's Congressional testimony this week will be the next chapter in the Fed story, and a key short-term driver for gold and commodities as a whole. Given the conflicting viewpoints the Fed has expressed in the last few months, it is highly unlikely any outcomes here will mark the final word on the topic. Not only will investors need to be aware of the level of dovish bias expressed by Bernanke at his official testimony, but in his accompanying press releases as well, as these venues have been used to make additional clarifications that have reversed market direction in short order.
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