Why gold is on the go
By Corey Hajim

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Rising gold prices can often be a harbinger of economic trouble. With gold hitting an 18-year high of $473 an ounce on Sept. 30, we asked J.P. Morgan global metals strategist Jon Begtheil whether the market is sending a message.

What's behind the gold rush?

The key short-term driver is the inflation risk from higher oil and commodity prices. But low-cost Chinese manufactured goods are keeping a lid on global inflation in spite of rising raw material costs, so we don't face--yet--the labor-cost inflation threat that accompanied the 1970s oil crisis.

What about long-term factors?

Limited future mine supply and the growing demand from China and India are pushing up prices. And the market is starting to price in the fact that while the huge U.S. trade deficits can be ignored in the short term, they are a significant problem for the dollar over the long haul.

How high will prices rise?

Some of the strength is seasonal from the typical pre-Christmas buying from jewelry manufacturers, so expect the per-ounce price to ease back by $15 to $20 after Christmas, but then to once more challenge $500 in the 2006 pre-Christmas season. -- Corey Hajim