Gold prices today continue to bounce up and down based on speculative headlines.
But what anyone investing in gold should look at is the long-term gold price outlook and the driving forces behind it.
The fundamentals here will push gold prices above the current levels around $1,350 and above $1,400 an ounce in the months ahead, and higher next year.
Here's why you can bet on higher gold prices in 2014…
Gold Prices and Chinese Imports
With most commodities, investors should not look to the "paper" commodities market for guidance, but to the actual physical demand coming from the billions of people in the emerging world.
Gold is no different.
Take China, for example.
Gold imports into the country from Hong Kong continue at a robust rate, underpinning gold prices.
China imported 129.2 metric tons of gold in July, up from 113 tons in June. That is 70% higher than year ago imports of 75.8 metric tons. July was the third consecutive month that imports exceeded the 100-ton level.
Analysts at Commerzbank commented to the Financial Times, "China remains the key driver of gold demand and is able to offset weak investment demand [in the Western world] to some extent."
The country's total gold consumption in 2013 is expected, by the World Gold Council, to reach 1,000 metric tons. This would make China the number one gold consumer in the world, surpassing India.
But that's not to say that India lost its centuries-long cultural affinity for gold, despite the current government's and central bank's efforts to limit gold ownership.
India Still Craves Gold
Gold demand from India traditionally picks up in the September-December period because of the wedding season and the festival of Diwali.
A major factor coming into play in India this year that will drive higher gold prices may sound surprising, but translates into surging demand…