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BENGALURU: Analysts and traders have slashed their gold price forecasts, with many believing a return to last year’s record highs is unlikely as economic recovery tarnishes the safe-haven metal’s appeal, a Reuters poll showed on Tuesday.

Spot gold has fallen to around $1,775 an ounce from an all-time high of $2,072.50 last August, when the COVID-19 pandemic upended economies and forced central banks to pump money into markets and cut interest rates.

Returns on government bonds, an asset class that competes with gold, plunged last year, but US Treasury yields have rebounded, fuelling talk of sooner-than-expected central bank tightening that would hurt bullion.

The poll of 42 analysts and traders returned a median forecast for gold of $1,784 an ounce for 2021 and $1,743 for 2022 - sharp downgrades from projections of $1,925 and $1,908 respectively in a similar poll three months ago.

“Most of the drivers (of the rally) are fading,” said Societe Generale analyst Florent Pele.

Analysts said, however, that interest in gold could be rekindled by events such as a weakening of the US dollar, an inflation surge, falling stock markets or a wave of coronavirus infections big enough to derail economic growth.

They also said a revival in gold demand in Asia from a slump earlier in the pandemic would prevent prices from falling too far.

The poll forecast silver would average $25.75 an ounce this year - down from a forecast of $25.86 in the previous survey - and $25 for 2022.

Most respondents said silver would outperform gold this year thanks to robust industrial consumption. Large quantities of silver are used in industries such as electronics and solar panels.

“Given silver’s use in renewables ... longer-term investor interest is likely to remain supportive of prices, particularly as industrial demand firms,” said Standard Chartered analyst Suki Cooper.

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