Commodities forecaster tips gold prices to remain subdued
Investors have been told to get used to gold prices below $US1300 an ounce, with Australia's top commodities forecaster predicting the yellow metal will stay there until 2018 at the earliest.
The gold price slumped in the past 24 hours to its lowest price in two months, fetching $US1290 an ounce on Wednesday evening.
After a decade-long rally, gold prices suffered a correction in 2013 and the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics has dismissed the chances of a rebound.
In its latest quarterly report, the bureau predicted gold would fetch an average of $US1275 an ounce in 2014 and remain below $US1300 an ounce until 2018 at the earliest.
Despite the US Federal Reserve declaring the continuation of money printing - which should bolster the gold price - the bureau predicted speculation about an end to the stimulus program in the US would weigh on gold prices in 2014.
An era of modest gold prices has taken a toll on Australia's goldmining industry, with several high-cost mines being scaled back or sold over the past six months.
The bureau said that trend should see Australia's total gold production decline slightly, but it said a declining Australian dollar should offer some comfort.
While the gold price is a fundamental spoke in the global economy, the Australian government's coffers are far more influenced by the iron ore price given the steel-making ingredient still ranks as the nation's most valuable export.
The iron ore price showed surprising resilience during September, remaining above $US130 a tonne for the month.
Some are speculating the strong run could start to fade this week as China slows for a week-long holiday, and the bureau said there was a possibility of a "stronger decline" in the December quarter as extra supply comes into the market.
Iron ore prices of $US119 a tonne in 2014 were predicted by the bureau as the start of a gradual decline towards 2018, when the iron ore price is tipped to average $US91 a tonne.
For context, Fortescue Metals needs an iron ore price in the low $US70s a tonne to break even.
The outlook for thermal coal is less rosy, with the bureau predicting spot prices to fall by almost 10 per cent in 2014, and a further 5 per cent in 2015 on the back of increased supply.
But prices should recover slowly from 2016 onwards.