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Published: Sep 05, 2023 14 min read

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Gold is one of the most widely traded commodities in the world. This precious metal has been used as a currency and a store of value for thousands of years and is considered a safe haven investment during market volatility.

Below, we will explore the different ways to trade the yellow metal, the factors that affect its price and common trading strategies used by professional gold traders.

Table of Contents

What is gold trading?

Gold trading is buying and selling gold as a financial asset in the global marketplace. Gold has been a valuable precious metal throughout history and is considered a store of value. Some investors use it as a hedge against inflation and economic uncertainty. However, trading gold has limitations and may not be suitable for everyone.

Various factors, including global economic conditions, geopolitical events, central bank policies and supply and demand dynamics influence gold trading. Traders and investors closely monitor these factors to make informed decisions and navigate the complexities of the gold market. As a versatile asset, gold offers opportunities for both short-term speculation and long-term investment strategies, making it a popular choice among traders seeking to diversify their portfolios and protect against market uncertainties.

What factors affect the price of gold?

Several factors influence the price of gold, including supply and demand, economic and political events, interest rates and the value of the U.S. dollar.

For instance, if the U.S. dollar strengthens against other currencies in the foreign exchange market, it can lower the price of gold and other precious metals and vice versa. Gold is often used as a safe haven asset during times of market volatility, as it tends to retain its value even when other assets are losing value.

What are the different ways to trade gold?

If you prefer physical ownership of the precious metal, you can buy and sell gold bars and coins through reputable dealers or online platforms. However, if you want exposure without physical ownership, consider gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs), gold mining stocks or gold futures contracts.

Before choosing a trading approach, make sure it aligns with your financial goals and risk tolerance.

Physical gold

Trading physical gold involves buying and selling gold in its physical form, such as gold bars or coins. This type of trading is often seen as a long-term investment and is popular among individuals who want to own a tangible asset as a store of value or hedge against inflation.

That said, trading physical gold can be expensive due to the costs associated with storage, transportation and insurance. It also requires a significant upfront investment to purchase it, which may limit accessibility for some traders. As such, physical gold trading is more suited for investors with a long-term outlook.

You can trade gold bars and coins through various avenues, including reputable precious metal dealers. Some online platforms provide opportunities for buying and selling physical gold, allowing convenient access to the market.

Gold stocks

Trading gold through stocks involves buying and selling shares of companies that mine, process or use gold in their operations. These gold-related stocks are listed on various stock exchanges, and their value is influenced by factors such as gold prices, company performance and market sentiment.

By investing in gold stocks, traders can gain exposure to the gold industry without needing physical ownership, offering potential returns based on the success and profitability of the underlying gold-related businesses.

Gold ETFs

Gold ETFs are investment funds that hold physical gold or track the price of gold. Like stocks, gold ETFs are a convenient way to invest without physical metal ownership. ETFs also trade like stocks on an exchange, making it easy for investors to buy and sell shares.

One of the benefits of trading gold ETFs is that they offer liquidity and transparency, as the price of the ETF reflects the cost of the underlying gold asset. Additionally, investors can trade gold ETFs at any time during market hours.

Gold futures contracts

A gold futures contract is an agreement to buy or sell a specific amount of gold at a future date at a predetermined price. Futures trading allows investors to speculate on the price movements of gold without owning the physical asset. These contracts have standardized sizes and expiry dates, making them popular for institutional investors, speculators and hedgers.

Trading gold futures involves significant risks and requires a good understanding of market dynamics and technical analysis. Additionally, traders must be aware of the potential for margin calls, which can require you to deposit additional funds into your account if the market moves against your position.

How to trade gold online

Trading gold online offers investors a convenient and accessible way to participate in the precious metals market. You can engage in various gold investment opportunities from home, using digital platforms and brokerage services.

If you want to purchase gold bars or coins online, you can find a reputable online gold dealer. Most allow you to browse their products and purchase directly from the website, while others may require you to call.

To trade gold stocks or ETFs, you can use an online trading platform with the steps below.

1. Open an account with an online trading brokerage

To begin trading gold online, you must open an account with a reputable online trading brokerage. Look for a brokerage offering a user-friendly platform, competitive fees and diverse gold investment options. You'll likely be required to provide personal information and identity verification during the account opening process. You can fund your account using various payment methods.

Before diving into gold trading, conduct thorough research on market trends, factors affecting gold prices and different trading strategies. Before risking real money, it's wise to use a demo account provided by most brokers to practice and familiarize yourself with the platform and trading process.

2. Deposit funds into your account

You can fund your account using various methods, including bank transfers. It's important to ensure you have enough funds in your account to cover your trades and any potential losses. Be sure to check for any minimum deposit requirements that may apply, as well as any associated fees.

3. Monitor price movements using technical indicators

Technical indicators are an essential aspect of gold trading. This involves studying price charts and identifying patterns, trends and signals that indicate potential price movements. By analyzing these indicators, traders can identify possible buying or selling opportunities, set price targets and manage risk. Technical analysis, used in conjunction with fundamental analysis, can also help traders stay disciplined and avoid making impulsive decisions based on emotions or market noise.

4. Place trades and manage your position accordingly

Once you have analyzed price movements and developed a risk management strategy, you can place trades and manage your positions. When opening a trade, choose an appropriate trade size, considering your risk management plan and the market conditions. You can use various types of orders — including market orders, limit orders and stop orders — to enter and exit positions.

Additionally, monitoring the price movements and adjusting as necessary to maximize profits and minimize losses is crucial. You can also consider using trailing stops, which automatically move your stop-loss order as the market price moves in your favor, protecting your profits in case of a reversal.

Common gold trading strategies

Financial advisors and experts often recommend everyday investors to take a long-term approach when investing in gold, steering clear of attempting to time the market. Gold’s short-term volatility underscores the importance of viewing it as a long-term investment.

The strategies below delve into advanced trading techniques, making them more suitable for experienced traders seeking to capitalize on market nuances. Keep in mind that these strategies may not align with your objectives if, for instance, you’re primarily investing in gold for portfolio diversification.

Trend following

Trend following is a popular trading strategy based on the assumption that once a trend has started, it’s likely to continue. This strategy involves identifying the direction of the price trend and entering trades in the same direction. Traders may use technical analysis tools such as moving averages, trend lines and momentum indicators to identify a trend.

One aspect to remember when using trend-following strategies is to avoid trading against the prevailing trend, as it can lead to significant losses. Additionally, it’s essential to use technical indicators to help confirm the trend direction, such as moving averages and trendlines.

Breakout trading

Breakout trading is a strategy that involves entering a trade when the price of an asset breaks through a key level of support or resistance. This is often associated with a significant increase in volume, indicating a strong shift in market sentiment. The aim is to capture a large move in the direction of the breakout.

It’s advisable to wait for confirmation of the breakout before entering a trade. This can be achieved by waiting for the price to close above or below the key level or trend line, or by using other technical indicators to confirm the breakout.

Range trading

Range trading involves identifying a price range where the price of gold has been fluctuating between support and resistance levels, and then entering trades when the price is near the support level and exiting when the price reaches the resistance level.

You can set appropriate stop-loss orders to limit potential losses. It’s important to monitor the range closely and be ready to exit the position if the range is broken, as this could signal a change in the market conditions.


Scalping is a short-term trading strategy that aims to profit from small price movements in the market. The idea is to open and close multiple trades within a short period, often within seconds or minutes, and make small profits on each trade. Scalpers use technical analysis to identify short-term price movements and often rely on high leverage to magnify their gains.

When scalping, it's vital to have a strict risk management plan in place because this strategy can be risky. Keep your trades small and consider using tight stop-loss orders to minimize potential losses. Also, be aware of the spread, as this can affect your profits, especially when scalping for small gains.

What are the pros and cons of gold trading?

Pros of gold trading

Gold has a long history as a store of value and is widely recognized and accepted as a safe haven. Gold can be traded in several ways, including as physical gold, futures contracts, ETFs and stocks, providing traders with various options to suit their trading styles. Some gold investments have the potential for high liquidity.

Cons of gold trading

Several factors can affect gold prices, including interest rates, central bank policy and political events, making it difficult to predict price movements. Gold can also be subject to large price fluctuations, particularly in the short term, leading to significant losses for traders. Finally, some forms of gold trading, such as physical gold, can require substantial upfront costs and may be subject to storage and security risks. Physical gold is not an income-generating investment, so the potential to make money on it is limited to when you sell it.

Gold trading FAQs

What are the most popular gold ETFs to trade?

Some of the most popular gold ETFs to trade are SPDR Gold Shares (GLD), iShares Gold Trust (IAU) and Aberdeen Standard Physical Swiss Gold Shares ETF (SGOL), but there are other options available. These ETFs aim to track the price of gold and provide investors with exposure to the commodity without the need to own physical gold.

How do I get started with trading gold?

To start trading gold, you must decide what type of gold investment you want to trade and develop a strategy. For online trading, choose a broker, open a trading account and deposit funds. If you want to trade physical gold, you can find a reputable online gold dealer. It's essential to research the gold market and understand the factors that affect the price of gold before making any trades.

What are some risks associated with trading gold?

Some risks include volatility, geopolitical and liquidity risks, depending on your investment type. To minimize losses, you can use risk management strategies, such as setting stop-loss orders, diversifying your portfolio and using leverage responsibly. You should also stay informed about market news and events that may affect the price of gold and adjust your trading strategy accordingly.

Summary of how to trade gold

Gold trading provides opportunities for both short-term speculation and long-term investment, making it popular for portfolio diversification and hedging against uncertainties. Supply, demand, economic conditions and geopolitical events influence gold prices.

Investors can trade gold through various options, including physical gold, futures contracts, ETFs and gold mining stocks. Physical gold entails owning gold bars or coins, while futures contracts enable price speculation without holding the metal. Gold ETFs and gold company stocks also offer exposure to gold price movements without physical ownership.

Gold trading presents profit opportunities but involves risks such as price fluctuations and physical gold storage costs. Understanding and implementing risk management strategies are vital for success. Before investing in gold, consider your financial goals to determine if it’s the right investment for you.