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Here are the Washington state companies that made Deloitte’s annual list of fastest-growing firms

Seattle’s reputation as a technology and innovation hub was further cemented by the release of Deloitte’s 2021 “North American Technology Fast 500.” Deloitte’s rankings are a yearly account of the fastest-growing North American companies in…



Some of the Washington state companies that made Deloitte’s annual Fast 500 list. (Deloitte Chart)

Seattle’s reputation as a technology and innovation hub was further cemented by the release of Deloitte’s 2021 “North American Technology Fast 500.” Deloitte’s rankings are a yearly account of the fastest-growing North American companies in tech, as measured by revenue growth from 2017 to 2020.  

Not surprisingly, Silicon Valley is the dominant region on the list, with 21% of the “Fast 500” hailing from the tech mecca. But Washington state and Seattle are strongly represented, with companies in the Puget Sound region comprising 5% of the list. 

Of the 26 Washington-based companies that made the cut, 24 are from the greater Seattle area, with Bellingham’s eXP World Holdings Inc. and Vancouver’s ZoomInfo rounding out the group.

Bellevue’s continued ascent is reflected in Deloitte’s ranking. There are eight Bellevue companies represented on the list, compared to 12 hailing from Seattle proper.

Another trend is Seattle’s software clout. Software and software-as-a-service companies represent 73% of the North American list, and 83% of the ranked Seattle-area companies are software makers, topped by Coinme, which saw a whopping 2,198% growth over the measured three-year span, good for 78th overall. 

Read on to learn more about the Washington-based companies that made this year’s Fast 500.     

No. 78: Coinme

The Seattle company, founded in 2014 with a vision of driving cryptocurrency access, started with a small number of bitcoin ATMs, and has since grown to support thousands of crypto-enabled units around the country through a partnership with Coinstar. More recently, the company announced plans to enable the MoneyGram International network, giving users the ability to exchange bitcoin for cash in the U.S., with a vision of expanding globally. Its enabled Coinstar ATMs are being introduced in a pilot program with Walmart.      

No. 129: eXp World Holdings

Located in small but vibrant Bellingham, eXp World Holdings Inc. is the holding company of eXp Realty, Virbela, and Success Enterprises. At the beginning of the month it announced third quarter revenue of $1.1 billion, a 97% increase from the year prior. The company, whose cloud-based brokerage model arms real estate professionals around the world with tools for virtual collaboration and operational technologies, is currently preparing to launch its residential lending venture, SUCCESS Lending.  

No. 136: Outreach

Outreach’s software is designed to help sales and revenue teams optimize workflow and drive predictable growth. Previously a finalist for Next Tech Titan at the GeekWire Awards, Outreach counts Zillow Group, Pandora, and Glassdoor among its customers. It is currently valued at $4.4 billion. In October it made its second acquisition, buying Indianapolis-based startup Canopy.  

No. 146: Highspot

Another company oriented towards sales reps, Highspot aims to equip, train, and coach company sales teams through its software. The company boasts more than 70 certified integrations. Highspot this month announced the launch of the Highspot Spark Community to allow Highspot users to collaborate and share best practices through discussions, content, and events. 

No. 151: Educative

Educative uses a text-based approach and hands-on coding to teach software courses to more than 725,000 developers and counting. It recently launched Educative Assesments, which aims to help developers track their skills and abilities, while making recommendations on how to widen or enhance them.   

No. 163: Qumulo

Qumulo is a data storage platform for multi-cloud environments. In July Qumulo launched as a native service with Microsoft Azure, and the company recently paired up with the San Francisco 49ers. The NFL team uses Qumulo’s software to optimize data storage for the security of their venue, Levi’s Stadium. It scored a $1.2 billion valuation in its latest funding round, and last month GeekWire interviewed Qumulo CEO Bill Richter for the GeekWire Podcast.

No. 166: Flexe

Founded in 2013, Seattle-based Flexe posits that speed matters, a lot. It’s positioned itself to e-commerce sellers as the key to competing with retail giant Amazon, and offers retailers flexible logistics and cost savings through access to a huge distribution network of warehouses and carriers. The company raised $70 million in a Series C funding round at the beginning of the year, and its case to retailers about the benefits of flexibility has only grown stronger with the supply-chain mishaps of the last few months.  

No. 209: Mason

Mason distinguishes itself among hardware developers by being a software developer as well. This allows Mason to cheaply and rapidly build products to custom specifications, from single-use prototypes to product lines, and to help businesses bring their hardware infrastructure to scale. The company was recently nominated for an Internet of Things Tech Trailblazers award.  

No. 245: Remitly

Remitly, from the word remittance, helps immigrants who travel abroad for work easily and securely send money home to their families. The Western Union challenger is optimized for mobile devices, bringing into the modern era a service that workers have depended on for decades. Remitly went public in September at a $7 billion valuation and reported $121 million in quarterly sales last week.

No. 260: Influence Mobile

Kirkland’s Influence Mobile pairs its algorithm with app developers to maximize engagement and monetization of their gaming apps. The company acquired Blind Ferret for an undisclosed amount in July, and was ranked fourth behind powerplayers Facebook, Google, and Twitter, in the Appsflyer Performance Index XIII.  

No. 268: Textio

Textio’s proofreading software helps companies build inclusive cultures through writing, from the language of internal communications to the wording of hiring announcements. It analyzes the patterns of organizational communications to maximize their inclusion and appeal to broad audiences. In September, Textio integrated its software with Linkedin.  

No. 273: Quadrant Resource

With an impressive client list including Amazon, AT&T, Expedia, Microsoft, Nordstrom, Uber, Alaska Airlines, and King Country, among others, Quadrant is an IT service provider and consultant. The Redmond-based company now has 12 offices in North America, Europe, and Asia, and its data and analytics team in India brought their expertise to build a COVID-19 update site. In September, Quadrant received Gold Partnership status with Microsoft.  

No. 298: ZoomInfo

Vancouver-based ZoomInfo helps companies optimize data, from sales to enterprise and recruiting. ZoomInfo bought for $575 million in July to boost its own product with conversation intelligence capabilities. The company also announced plans to move its headquarters to the Vancouver waterfront in 2025, indicating that more growth is on the way.

No. 306: Hiya

Hiya aims to secure your phone from the influx of spam calling that has swept the country, particularly since the onset of the pandemic. It added Salesforce President and CMO Sarah Franklin to its board over the summer, and its SaaS services, Hiya Connect and Hiya Protect, claim more than 200 million active monthly users. Hiya just released new tech that uses AI against illegal phone calls.

No. 342. Seagen

Seagen Inc., formerly Seattle Genetics, is a publicly-traded company with a current valuation north of $30 billion. The company develops and commercializes cancer therapies, with a specialty in antibody drug conjugates. Seagan studies a number of cancers and lymphomas extensively, and has three cancer medicines that have already been approved. It also has more than five other cancer-specific therapies in different stages of clinical and preclinical testing.   

No. 352: doxo

Doxo helps people streamline the process of paying utility, housing, and credit card bills by allowing them to pay them all in a consistent format, in one place. doxo sells its services both to consumers and providers, enabling doxo to pair with a network of 100,000 service providers to give comprehensive coverage to its 6 million-plus users. doxo expanded its user base more than 70% last year, and is backed by Mohr Davidow Ventures, Sigma Partners, and Bezos Expeditions.  

No. 353: BioLife Solutions

Biolife Solutions facilitates research and commercialization in cell and gene therapies by extending the shelf life and maintaining the health and function of biologic source material. Its products include CryoStor freeze media, HypoThermosol shipping and storage media, evo cold chain management, and a number of other freezing and thawing products.

No. 354: Headlight

Headlight, which raised $25 million over the summer, helps construction teams increase the accountability of their projects by allowing them to collect and use project data in real time. Headlight’s visual tools give project managers real-time images of every aspect of a job site. The company counts a number of state transportation agencies as its clients and partners, and appears to be in a promising position after the passing of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. 

No. 382: Smartsheet

Founded in 2005, Smartsheet is a business efficiency software service that provides a dynamic, secure workspace to 80% of Fortune 500 companies. It reported $131.7 million in revenue, up 44%, for the most recent quarter. The Bellevue-based company, which has offices in Boston, Edinburgh, London, and Sydney, recently announced a shakeup of its executive team.

No. 386: Icertis

Icertis’s AI-powered contract intelligence platform “turns contracts from static documents into strategic advantage” in applications from clinical trial agreements to supplier onboarding. The privately held company, founded in 2009, was valued at $2.8 billion after raising $80 million in March. It counts Best Buy and Microsoft among its clients, and its software has engaged some 10 million contracts worth more than $1 trillion.  

No. 412: Pushpay

Primarily serving churches across the world, Pushpay’s platform helps ministries and non-profits more easily fundraise online and better engage with donors. In August the company acquired streaming leader Resi Media, positioning the company to fully operate remote. Their ChurchStaq software allows leaders, staff, and volunteers to better gauge and streamline ministry impact. Pushpay trades publicly on the NYSE.    

No. 437: Skilljar

The pandemic was great for Skilljar, a leading customer training platform that helps scale resources and increase customer adoption and retention by providing education and training to customers of their clients, including Tableau, Verizon, and Zenefits. Skilljar this week celebrated the end of its flagship conference, Connect 2021, by launching new integrations with Caveon and ProctorFree and announcing wins at Gong, Hopin, and Shopify.  

No. 447: Zenoti

The company’s cloud-based software covers every aspect of the spa and salon management business, from booking and employee management to inventory and marketing. Zenoti currently serves more than 12,000 businesses and in September it acquired salon manager SuperSalon. It raised $80 million in June and is valued at around $1.5 billion.

No. 460: SirionLabs

Another contract management system, SirionLabs manages 5 million-plus contracts worth over $450 billion. At the end of October Sirion revealed that it had nearly doubled revenue in the last year and would be opening offices in Germany, France, and Australia.

No. 489: is an ad performance measurement metric that tracks the performance of TV ads. The company has exclusive rights to 16 million Smart TVs and has direct integrations with hundreds of streaming platforms. Customers include P&G, Google, Bose, and Fox. In January it bought attitudinal measurement pioneer ACE Metrix, and in October acquired DRMetrix.

No. 500. DigniFi

DigniFi, the financing platform for cars, motorcycles, and other powersport vehicles, has processed more than 300,000 applications since its founding in 2013. DignFi’s WebBank-backed credit program, ExpressWay, simplifies financing for their customers so that they can make repairs from which they otherwise would be dissuaded.

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When Will Uranium Prices Go Up?

Uranium is an important fuel source for the nuclear energy industry. But prices have bottomed out in the past decade, with many investors wondering when the market will rebound.Driven by rising demand and massive supply disruptions, uranium prices shot…



Uranium is an important fuel source for the nuclear energy industry. But prices have bottomed out in the past decade, with many investors wondering when the market will rebound.

Driven by rising demand and massive supply disruptions, uranium prices shot up in 2007 from US$72 per pound at the start of the year to an all-time high of US$136.22 by early June.

However, in the years since then, the spot price for uranium has mainly tracked downward on a steady slope. Since 2012 and through much of 2021, uranium prices traded under the key US$50 level, falling as low as US$18. However, in September 2021, the spot price for uranium shot up to a nine year high of US$50.80.

The consequences of an enduring low-price environment in the uranium industry have been significant, leading to curtailments in uranium production as well as a dearth of new discoveries. For years, analysts and industry leaders have proclaimed that the uranium spot price needs to rise above US$50 to US$60 — and stay above that point — before such activity becomes economical again.

This most recent uranium price rally came after supply cuts from major producers, including Kazakhstan's Kazatomprom and Canada's Cameco (TSX:CCO,NYSE:CCJ), alongside the emergence of the Sprott Physical Uranium Trust (TSX:U.UN). However, uranium’s leap over the critical US$50 level was only a brief blip on the price chart.

The uranium market's years-long trough has investors asking, "When will uranium prices go up?" Before we try to answer that question, we'll have a look at what's moved uranium spot prices in the past, including the energy metal's supply and demand dynamics.

When will uranium prices go up? Historical price action

chart showing uranium's price history over the last 25 years

Uranium has experienced a wide price range this past century — while its highest level was nearly US$140, the lowest U3O8 spot price came in at just US$7.

In 2003, the price of uranium began an upward trend as demand for nuclear power rose alongside the world's need for energy, especially in growth economies such as China and India.

These increasing energy demands came at the same time as significant supply-side disruptions. In 2006, Cameco's massive Cigar Lake mine in Saskatchewan flooded, stalling production for several years at one of the largest undeveloped uranium deposits in the world.

The inability to move this uranium ore to market was a huge setback for the uranium industry, and translated into explosive price growth for the metal in 2007. However, those impressive gains were soon undone by the 2008 economic crisis, which sent the uranium price on a downward spiral, slipping below the key US$50 level in early 2009. In 2010, uranium prices slipped further into the US$40 range.

In 2011, the price of uranium got a serious push to the upside along with other energy metals as the global economy began to recover. The tight supply situation, heightened by years of low prices, also played a part in pushing the spot price past the US$70 level.

After the 2011 Fukushima disaster, the uranium spot price began a slow slide to lows not seen since the start of the century, ultimately bottoming out at US$18 in November 2017. In the decade or so since then, uranium prices have struggled to breach the US$29 level.

In 2020, COVID-19-induced supply disruptions at the world's top uranium mines briefly supported spot price gains of more than 30 percent in the first half of the year, and the uranium price hit a four year high of US$33.93 in May. However, by mid-September, prices had pulled back to the US$29 level.

The launch of the Sprott Physical Uranium Trust and ongoing concerns over potential future uranium supply shortages pushed the uranium spot price across the US$50 threshold in September 2021. But soon, uranium prices were see-sawing between US$38 and US$48 in October and November.

When will uranium prices go up? Supply and demand

Uranium prices are mainly influenced by aboveground mine supply and demand for nuclear energy. To understand where those stand, investors in this sector typically look to:

  • output from uranium mines
  • the number of nuclear reactors online, under construction or planned
  • the signing of long-term contracts between uranium suppliers and utilities companies

Analysts with a bullish lean believe the uranium market cycle has reached its bottom and that a break to the upside for uranium prices is supported by positive supply and demand fundamentals.

On the demand side, nuclear energy generated from 445 reactors around the globe supplies about 10 percent of the world's energy requirements. China alone is constructing 16 new reactors, Russia is constructing three with another 11 planned and India has seven nuclear reactors under construction.

The World Nuclear Association (WNA)'s “Nuclear Fuel Report: Global Scenarios for Demand and Supply Availability 2021-2040” forecasts 2.6 percent annual growth in nuclear generation capacity over the next two decades to reach 615 gigawatts electrical in 2040. About 79,400 tonnes of uranium will be required to feed these reactors in 2030, up from 62,500 tonnes in 2021. This figure is expected to grow to 112,300 tonnes of uranium in 2040.

On the supply side, major uranium producers are still cutting back on their output levels, while new uranium exploration projects are few and far between. The WNA points out that world uranium production dropped from 63,207 tonnes of uranium in 2016 to 47,731 tonnes of uranium in 2020. The organization also notes that “only 74 (percent) of 2020's reactor requirements were covered by primary uranium supply.”

Huge cuts to global uranium production have come from Kazakhstan, the world's largest uranium-producing country. Responsible for 41 percent of global uranium production, the Central Asian nation began reducing its annual production levels in 2018 and plans to continue "flexing down" its uranium output through 2022.

Australia, Namibia, Canada and Uzbekistan are also among the world's biggest uranium producers. In Canada, Cameco shuttered the Saskatchewan-based McArthur River mine in 2018 and temporarily closed Cigar Lake — the world's top uranium mine — in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These supply deficits are likely to continue impacting the uranium market in the years ahead. "Uranium production volumes at existing mines are projected to remain fairly stable until the late 2020s, then decreasing by more than half from 2030 to 2040," the WNA report states. This is also due in part to the lack of uranium exploration in recent years. The organization’s research shows that uranium exploration spending fell by 77 percent, from US$2.12 billion in 2014 to as little as US$483 million in 2018.

When will uranium prices go up? Future forecasts

So when can investors expect to see uranium prices go up? And when will the spot price for the metal once again move above — and stay above — the key US$50 to US$60 level?

In January 2020, Rick Rule, who was then part of Sprott (TSX:SII,NYSE:SII) told the Investing News Network (INN) that investors interested in uranium should be prepared to take the long position — in his opinion, it could be awhile before we see a rebound in the uranium market.

Rule reiterated his stance in a July 2021 interview with INN, pointing to Japanese restarts as the last catalyst needed to launch a new era of strength in the uranium market. “Everything else is in place,” he said at the time.

A true renaissance for uranium might be a few years off, but market participants are likely to see a series of incremental price increases along the way. John Ciampaglia, CEO of Sprott Asset Management, told INN: “The uranium market is not a very big market compared to, say, the oil and gas market and other commodity markets. It doesn't take a lot of capital to come from the generalist pool of capital to make a ripple in the uranium market."

A good gauge for where the winds are blowing is utilities contracts, as these entities are traditionally the greatest sources of uranium demand. Only about 10 to 15 percent of uranium trades happen on the spot market. The vast majority of uranium is sold through large long-term contracts between producers and utilities.

"Everyone is looking for this new contract cycle — when is it going to pick up, where are these deals going to get done in terms of term and price?" Ciampaglia said. "Everyone's looking for these signals in terms of where the longer-term price of uranium is going to drift to."

UxC estimates that by 2030 about two-thirds of utility nuclear fuel requirements will not be covered by contracts, and this will reach 81 percent in 2035. The lack of new uranium projects coming online is a considerable part of this equation. As utility inventories decline, they will come to market willing to accept higher contract prices to replenish their energy fuel stock, and secure future supply lines may happen sooner than later. Much higher long-term contract prices will in turn bring uranium spot prices along for the ride.

There are a wide range of views on uranium's future. Gerado Del Real, co-owner of Digest Publishing, told INN in a November 2021 interview that he believes uranium could hit new record highs in the next 12 to 18 months. His bullish outlook includes the potential for uranium prices to reach the US$200 level within that time period.

In September, Bank of America analyst Lawson Winder set his uranium spot price target for 2022 at US$53.50, and his 2023 target at US$48.50. As of December 1, analysts at Trading Economics were forecasting that uranium would trade at US$42.82 in 12 months time.

Still other uranium market watchers have cautioned that a near-term rebound in the uranium market is a tough call to make. Mercenary Geologist Mickey Fulp has advised, "Not even insiders have an idea of when this is going to turn because the market is so opaque."

This is an updated version of an article first published by the Investing News Network in 2020.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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What Are the Advantages of Wind Energy and Solar Energy?

Wind power and solar power are considered the two primary choices for clean energy.As clean technologies, both solar energy and wind power significantly decrease pollution and have minimal operational costs. These are attractive reasons to make the switch



Wind power and solar power are considered the two primary choices for clean energy.

As clean technologies, both solar energy and wind power significantly decrease pollution and have minimal operational costs. These are attractive reasons to make the switch to clean energy solutions — but there's certainly more to wind and solar energy than that.

Here the Investing News Network provides a brief introduction to wind energy and solar energy, from the advantages of renewable energy to the future outlook for these clean energy technologies.

What are wind energy and solar energy?

Putting it simply, wind energy is the process of using the air flowing through wind turbines to automatically generate power by converting the kinetic energy in wind into mechanical power.

Wind energy can provide electricity for utility grids and homes, and can be used to charge batteries and pump water. The three main kinds of wind power are broken down as follows by the American Wind Energy Association:

  • Utility-scale wind: Wind turbines bigger than 100 kilowatts that deliver electricity to power grids and end users via electric utilities or power system operators.
  • Distributed wind: Wind turbines smaller than 100 kilowatts that are used to directly provide power to homes, farms or small businesses.
  • Offshore wind: Wind turbines placed in large bodies of water, generally on the continental shelf.

Interestingly, wind energy can also be considered an indirect form of solar energy. That's because winds are widely described as being caused by the uneven heating of the atmosphere by the sun, the irregularities of the Earth's surface and rotation of the Earth.

Solar power is energy derived from the sun's rays and then converted into thermal or electrical energy.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, solar energy can be created in the following three ways: photovoltaics, solar heating and cooling and concentrating solar power.

  • Photovoltaics: Generates electricity directly from sunlight via an electronic process to power small electronics, road signs, homes and large commercial businesses.
  • Solar heating and cooling: Uses the heat generated by the sun to provide water heating or space heating and cooling.
  • Concentrating solar power: Uses the heat generated by the sun to run traditional electricity-generating turbines.

What are the advantages of wind energy and solar energy?

With the basics of wind and solar energy in mind, let's look at the advantages of these two clean energy sources.

As carbon-free, renewable energy sources, wind and solar can help reduce the world's dependence on oil and gas. These carbon fuels are responsible for harmful greenhouse gas emissions that affect air, water and soil quality, and contribute to environmental degradation and climate change.

Aside from that, wind and solar energy can give homeowners and businesses the ability to generate and store electricity onsite, giving them backup power when their needs cannot be filled by the traditional utilities grid.

For example, during California's most recent wildfire season, large-scale utilities companies such as PG&E (NYSE:PCG) shut off power to tens of thousands of people in an effort to prevent fires like those linked to downed power lines. In cases like this, solar energy generated onsite could not only help fight climate change, but also act as a reliable backup source of energy.

Solar panel installations are easy to do and can also create energy bill savings. In some regions, users may qualify for tax breaks or energy rebates if they produce excess energy that can be delivered to the utility grid. In Canada, there are at least 78 clean energy incentive programs available that offer a combined total of 285 energy-efficiency rebates and 27 renewable energy rebates.

Both solar energy and wind energy are on the path to becoming the world's most affordable sources of energy.

"Land-based utility-scale wind is one of the lowest-priced energy sources available today, costing 1-2 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) after the production tax credit," according to the US Department of Energy. "Because the electricity from wind farms is sold at a fixed price over a long period of time (e.g. 20+ years) and its fuel is free, wind energy mitigates the price uncertainty that fuel costs add to traditional sources of energy."

The price of harnessing the sun's power is dropping each year due to technology advancements. In fact, the cost of residential photovoltaic solar power has slid from US$0.50 per kWh in 2010 to US$0.128 per kWh in 2020, according to US Department of Energy figures. The US agency estimates that solar costs will fall further to US$0.05 by 2030. On a grander scale, utility photovoltaic costs already sat at only US$0.045 as of 2020.

Future outlook for wind energy and solar energy

Looking ahead for wind energy, the Global Wind Energy Council estimates that 435 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity will be added from 2021 to 2025. Government support will be a key driver, giving way to market-based growth.

"The world needs to be installing an average of 180 GW of new wind energy every year to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels," state the report's authors, "and will need to install up to 280 GW annually from 2030 onwards to maintain a pathway compliant with meeting net zero by 2050."

As for solar energy, the International Energy Association's (IEA) World Energy Outlook 2021 report pegs solar as now cheaper than coal. Along with wind energy, solar energy is expected to make up 80 percent of the global electric energy market by 2030. "Since 2016, global investment in the power sector has consistently been higher than in oil and gas supply," explains the IEA report. "The faster that clean energy transitions proceed, the wider this gap becomes, and as a result electricity becomes the central arena for energy-related financial transactions."

Lux Research predicts that the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources will be accelerated by several years due to the impact COVID-19 is having on energy markets all over the world.

The firm notes that economic relief packages contain trillions of dollars for renewable energy technology research and development, and for the deployment of low- and zero-carbon infrastructure. By 2025, Lux sees COVID-19 resulting in accelerated investment in energy storage and power-generation projects.

Ways to invest in wind and solar energy

There are many investment opportunities in the renewable energy markets.

For investors interested in wind energy, there is the First Trust ISE Global Wind Energy Index Fund (ARCA:FAN), which was created on June 16, 2008. It tracks 50 holdings, including wind energy giants Vestas Wind Systems (OTC Pink:VWSYF), Boralex (TSX:BLX) and Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (OTC Pink:GCTAF), to name a few.

Our list of renewable energy stocks on the TSX may also be worth considering.

This is an updated version of an article first published by the Investing News Network in 2018.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Technology for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistlli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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Gold Trends 2021: Price Sheds 6 Percent Following Record 2020

Click here to read the previous gold trends article. After soaring to an all-time high of US$2,058.40 per ounce during 2020, gold has faced headwinds in 2021.Values for the yellow metal started the year at US$1,898, but the level proved unsustainable…



Click here to read the previous gold trends article.

After soaring to an all-time high of US$2,058.40 per ounce during 2020, gold has faced headwinds in 2021.

Values for the yellow metal started the year at US$1,898, but the level proved unsustainable and gold had sunk to US$1,700 — still its year-to-date low — by the end of the first quarter.

Positivity in the second quarter pushed the precious metal to its annual high in May, when the price touched US$1,903; however, it soon retreated to the US$1,760 range a few weeks later.

Since then, the currency metal has struggled to breach US$1,800, and many experts are pinning its price volatility on broader monetary issues. Read on for a look at trends that impacted gold in 2021.

Gold trends 2021: Key headwinds keeping the metal down

2021 gold price chart

Speaking to the Investing News Network, Brian Leni, editor of Junior Stock Review, explained that 2020’s pandemic response led to a massive expansion of global debt and was accompanied by low interest rates, “which the market knows is a recipe for disaster, but it keeps the ‘party’ going, so to speak.”

This environment facilitated gold’s 32 percent price increase between January and August of last year, and ultimately allowed the yellow metal to end 2020 up 21.18 percent from its January start of US$1,552.30.

“Over the last year, however, the gold price has drifted mostly downward,” Leni said.

“In my view, this isn’t because of any fundamental gold market reason. I think that negative price action is the market predicting or expecting the US Federal Reserve to raise interest rates to quell the rampant inflation that we have endured over the last 12 to 16 months.”

With economic stimulus winding down and growing uncertainty emerging around new COVID-19 variants, the Fed is in a precarious position.

“The problem for the Fed is twofold,” Leni said. “First, debt levels are so high that any significant interest rate hikes at this point could easily destabilize the market, causing a cascade effect around the world.”

He continued, “Second, the broader stock market is at all-time highs. Easy money, low interest and lockdowns have given the public more access or interest in the stock market than ever.”

The result is a delicate situation the Fed will have trouble balancing.

“If the Fed raises rates and begins its tightening process, I have no doubt that this will be negative for the broader stock market,” Leni noted. “It’s a big risk to many people’s savings, and the Fed knows it.”

Because of this, he thinks it will be challenging for the Fed to raise rates to the projected 0.25 or 0.5 percent amount in 2022 without causing a widespread ripple effect.

“Ultimately, an investment in gold is an investment in real money,” added Leni. “Real money that can’t be debased and is not simultaneously someone else’s liability.”

Gold trends 2021: ETF outflows preventing ​price growth

After dropping to a year-to-date low of US$1,700 in Q1 and rallying to this year's high point of US$1,903 in Q2, gold remained rangebound between US$1,700 and US$1,800 for most of Q3.

In addition to the factors mentioned by Leni, gold's flat price performance in the third quarter has been attributed to a 7 percent decline in investment demand from the exchange-traded fund (ETF) segment. This trend continued in October, when gold ETF holdings shed 25.5 tonnes.

"Global gold ETF holdings fell to 3,567 tonnes (US$203 billion) during the month — notching year-to-date low levels — as investor appetite for gold diminished in the ETF space following price declines in August and September," an October World Gold Council gold ETF report states.

In comparison to 2020’s record-setting 877 tonnes of inflows, so far 2021 has seen outflows of 269.1 tonnes and modest inflows of 87.6 tonnes. What's more, six of the last 10 months have registered net outflows in the gold-backed ETF segment. The ETF exodus has been attributed to investors adding more risk to their portfolios.

That said, Juan-Carlos Artigas, head of research at the World Gold Council, noted that 2021’s outflows seem disproportionate because 2020, especially Q3, was such a record-setting period for the gold ETF space.

However, he did point out that significant moves in the gold price tend to be influenced by the investment demand segment on a short- to mid-term basis. Looking longer term, overall demand from all segments — including jewelry, technology and bars and coins — is the price driver.

As investment demand shed 7 percent, or 831 tonnes, the gold price was further impacted by total mine production, which ballooned to 959.46 tonnes, up almost 90 tonnes from Q2’s 876.77 tonnes and significantly higher than the 842.72 tonnes mined in the first quarter.

All of gold’s headwinds combined in late September, forcing the metal to a six month low of US$1,726.10.

Gold trends 2021: Inflation threat gaining traction 

As new lockdowns began to emerge toward the end of the year, and stronger variants of COVID-19 started to be detected, some positivity in the broader markets began to erode.

This uncertainty benefited the yellow metal, which edged higher throughout October, starting the session at US$1,761 and ending the 31 day period at US$1,775.

“Gold price strength happened amid higher nominal yields: gold had been generally inversely correlated with nominal bond yields this year,” a November WGC report notes. “However, a rise in inflation expectations outweighed the move in nominal rates and resulted in lower real rates.”

As inflation began to exhibit signs of being more structural and less transitory in the fourth quarter, gold appeared to benefit from the looming uncertainty.

"If you look at the performance of interest rates versus gold over the last 20 years, as interest rates go up, gold sells off,” said Gareth Soloway, chief market strategist at, in early November.

"We haven't seen gold sell off, we've seen gold more chop sideways over the last couple of months as interest rates have gone up. And what that again tells us is that the market is starting to realize inflation is here, and big money is buying every single dip on gold. So I continue to be very, very bullish on gold over the longer term.”

Watch Soloway discuss where gold may go in the months ahead.

These factors are anticipated to be further heightened by changes in asset allocation, which have been fueled by historically low interest rates, pushing investors to add risk to their portfolios earlier in the year. “Because of that, investors are looking for ways to hedge some of that exposure, and that can be supportive of gold,” Artigas said.

By the end of November, gold had rallied to a 60 day high of US$1,803.20 ahead of December volatility courtesy of the Omicron variant, which hampered air travel and forced countries to reimplement quarantine-style protocols.

The spreading variant pushed markets lower during the first week of trading in December. However, gold also faced headwinds, retracting to the US$1,762 level before rebounding to the US$1,780 range.

Gold trends 2021: Industry waiting for a market correction

Despite gold's lackluster 2021 performance, those in the industry have a positive outlook for next year, with many suggesting that the Fed won't be able to stay in control for much longer.

Barisheff explains why gold is the best investment right now.

"The market is due for a major correction. What will cause it and when it will happen is anybody's guess — it could be tomorrow, it could be six months from now," said Nick Barisheff, CEO of BMG Group, who advises investors shed some of their risk when initial losses start to mount.

Rather than rushing to cash, a popular move amid market turmoil, he has other ideas. "Instead of taking your money off the table and going into cash … you go to gold (because cash is devaluing daily),” Barisheff said.

“Gold will at least hold its own and probably appreciate ... so by sitting it out in gold you can wait until the market finishes correcting and then buy back in.”

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Securities Disclosure: I, Georgia Williams, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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