China's leaders on Saturday began meeting behind closed to doors to set he economic and political agenda for the next decade. Expectations for the the four-day meeting in Beijing are high with state news agency Xinhua saying "major issues concerning comprehensively deepening reforms" will be discussed. Liberalizing the financial sector and reforming state-owned enterprises to move the country from an investment to consumer-led economy are some of the items on the agenda of the so-called Third Plenum. The Third Plenum in 1978, former leader Deng Xiaoping announced the opening-up of China's economy which kickstarted decades of rapid economic growth with the country becoming the main driving force behind the so-called commodity super-cycle. China dominates the global trade in just about every commodity including iron ore (consuming 70% of the seaborne trade), copper (42%), coal (47%), nickel (36%), lead (44%) and zinc (41%). While the impact of the meeting on metals and minerals prices will be difficult to gauge and any decision taken may well be only felt way down the line some analysts believe the impact on gold should be generally positive: "Meaningful reform will be painful and disruptive, and I suspect a lot of Chinese will seek the perceived safety and portability of gold," Patrick Chovanec, the managing director and chief strategist at Silvercrest Asset Management told CNBC. "That will be particularly true if the bubble in China's property market pops. For the Chinese, buying and stockpiling empty properties serves much the same function as investing in gold, since they are both unproductive stores of value, so if real estate sees a major correction, many Chinese will turn to gold." Investment options for Chinese outside the property sector are few with domestic stock markets largely undeveloped and untrustworthy. At the same time inflation is relatively high and with authorities likely loosening its grip on the yuan, gold's status as a hard asset will be further burnished. The spot gold price dipped below the $1,300 an ounce level for the first time in three weeks on Friday, failing as much as $25 an ounce to a session low of $1,281. The precious metal is down more than 23% in 2013, dropping to a near-three year low of $1,220 at the end of June, and is set break its unbroken 12-year bull run this year.
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