Price gains could moderate if coronavirus vaccines help drive a strong economic recovery in new year

Gold is wrapping up its best annual performance in years. What comes next hinges on a handful of unpredictable dynamics, ranging from the strength of the global economic recovery to the health of the U.S. dollar.
Most-actively traded gold futures for February delivery finished Wednesdays session at $1,893.40 a troy ounce, putting gold on pace to finish 2020 up more than 24%its best year since 2010. That also outperforms the S&P 500, which is up about 15% this year. Front-month futures settled Wednesday at $1,891.
After soaring earlier in the year, gold prices have retreated from a record of $2,069.50 an ounce reached in August, dragged down by signs of improvement in the global economy. Investors tend to buy the metal when nervous about holding riskier assets such as stocks or corporate bonds.
That leaves some investors expecting more moderate gains in 2021 as the economic outlook improves. From Nov. 6 to Dec. 18, investors pulled more than $10 billion from gold-backed exchange-traded funds, according to data from the World Gold Council, a notable reversal from the record inflows earlier in the year.
Much will depend on the strength of the U.S. recovery. A resurgence in the coronavirus pandemic and a runoff election in Georgia next month to determine control of the Senate could prompt market volatility in early 2021, traders say, providing support for gold prices.