Nic Johnson, who helps manage $30 billion in commodity assets for PIMCO, said he placed bullish bets on gold.
The Fed's decision on Wednesday to delay the expected cut in monetary stimulus has materially reduced the downside risk for gold, Johnson said in an email to Reuters on Thursday. The Fed said it would wait for more evidence of solid growth before starting to reduce its monthly purchases of $85 billion in bonds.
As investors went on their biggest one-day buying spree in gold in over a year on Wednesday, Johnson sold some gold put options in expectation that bullion has bottomed out for now.
Put-selling is an option strategy allowing the option writer to pocket the premium in exchange for bearing the risk that gold prices might fall below the strike price. Puts give the holders the right to sell at an agreed price within a specified time.
Still, uncertainty over the timing and size of the Fed's tapering will likely keep prices relatively rangebound until the end of the year, Johnson said. The Fed's stimulus program has kept interest rates low and bolstered bullion prices for the past four years.
Buying by Asian investors and central banks will offset continued liquidation of exchange-traded funds, with the Fed actions capping gold's downside, he said.
"It is unclear if gold will extend rally, but given the action of the Fed I would say it is unlikely that gold will retest its three-year lows near $1,180 an ounce set in late June," Johnson said.
However, expectations that the Fed's delay would rekindle fund interest in bullion as a hedge against inflation and US dollar depreciation had stalled by Friday. Gold prices fell over 2 per cent to around $1,330 an ounce.
The impact on gold of any tapering by the Fed is still not clear. Some traders say it is already priced into the market after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke raised the prospect of tapering in May. Others say lack of inflation after years of money printing by central banks has undermined gold's appeal.
Bullion is a traditional inflation hedge, particularly in cases of actions by central banks.
Johnson cited lower US real interest rates for gold's gains after the Fed announcement on Wednesday. Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields were 2.85 per cent before the Fed's announcement and have fallen to 2.73 per cent on Friday.
Institutional and retail investors have exited gold this year, reversing years of buying as they braced for the Fed ending its stimulus, putting bullion on track for a 20 per cent loss this year, its worst in over a decade.
After gold's historic two-day selloff in April, Johnson told Reuters the firm had increased its precious metals exposure in its commodity accounts.
Pacific Investment Management Co., a unit of European financial services company Allianz SE well known for its bond investments, had $1.97 trillion in assets as of June 30, according to the company's website.