Gold to scale new heights on strong technical picture
Gold appears to be regaining favor with investors, rallying 5 percent over the past two weeks, and gains look set to continue in the near term driven by a strong technical picture, according to ANZ.
"Gold has managed to break through – and hold above – some key resistance levels over the past few weeks. A rally above $1,308 per ounce could target $1,365," Victor Thianpiriya, commodity strategist at ANZ, who sees gold rising to $1,450 by year-end, wrote in a report published on Friday.
Gold held above $1,300 on Friday and looked set to post its biggest weekly gain since October as U.S. data raised concerns about the outlook for economic growth.
In addition to technical factors, sentiment among long and short-term investors appears to be turning more positive, he said.
Speculators have covered short positions, pushing the net longs in Commodity Exchange (Comex) to a three-month high while gold holdings in physically-backed ETFs are increasing.
(Read more: This will drop gold to $1,000: Credit Suisse pro)
In the week to February 4, speculative net long positions in Comex stood at 89,000 contracts – an increase of 24 percent from 72,000 a fortnight prior.
Meanwhile, gold holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest exchange-traded fund backed by bullion, said its holdings rose 7.50 tonnes to 806.35 tonnes on Thursday – its biggest inflow since late December.
One key factor that may determine the sustainability of the rally, however, is whether Chinese physical demand will wane with higher gold prices.
"While these factors argue for a higher price, we are cautious that a rally to the mid-1,300's can hold in the near term as Chinese demand is likely to taper off," Thianpiriya said.
Nevertheless, ANZ says that its expectation of a gold recovery to $1,450 by end-2014 remains intact.
"China is expected to remain the driving force behind global physical gold demand, maintaining its position as the world's top consumer for the second year in a row. We expect this demand will more than offset the weight of physical gold selling by exchange traded funds in the long term," Thianpiriya said.
"Indian demand could also surprise on the upside...some relaxation of the import restrictions imposed last year seem to be in the offing, though we view a full lifting of import controls as unlikely," he added.
Market watchers, however, remains divided over the prospects for the precious metal, with Goldman Sachs' chief commodity strategist Jeffrey Currie reiterating his forecast for gold to fall to $1,050 over the next 12 months.
"Our U.S. economists continue to expect strong growth in 2014 coupled with low inflation and as a result we forecast further downside for gold prices in 2014 with an end of year target of $1,050 per ounce," Currie wrote in a report this week.
(Read more: Gold to tank in 2014: Goldman Sachs)
"However, we believe that the path will be more of a slow grind lower over the course of the year unlike last year as markets will wait for strong economic data to confirm that U.S. economic growth is accelerating and that the Federal Reserve will continue to reduce the accommodative monetary policy," he said.
Additionally, he said the potential for further emerging market currency depreciation in countries could impact demand given the price sensitive nature of jewelry demand in local currency terms.
—By CNBC's Ansuya Harjani. Follow her on Twitter: @Ansuya_H