Gold futures fell, ending the longest rally in six weeks, as pending sales of previously owned U.S. homes had the biggest gain in almost three years, crimping demand for the precious metal as an alternative asset.
A report from the National Association of Realtors today showed contracts to purchase existing homes increased 3.4 percent in March, topping estimates by analysts. Earlier, gold reached a one-week high as escalating tensions in Ukraine spurred purchases for a haven. The U.S. imposed sanctions on seven Russian officials and 17 companies linked to President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
“People don’t see the need for gold as the economic data was bullish,” Lance Roberts, who oversees $600 million as chief executive officer of STA Wealth in Houston, said in a telephone interview. “The headlines about Russia have not created enough panic for everyone to rush to gold, and the sanctions were disappointing.”
Gold futures for June delivery fell 0.1 percent to settle at $1,299 an ounce at 1:43 p.m. on the Comex in New York. Earlier, the price reached $1,306.60, the highest for a most-active contract since April 16.
Trading was 27 percent lower than the average for the past 100 days, data compiled by Bloomberg showed. Futures climbed in the previous three sessions, the longest rally since March 14.
The metal tumbled 28 percent in 2013 on speculation that the Federal Reserve would reduce stimulus amid signs of a recovery in the U.S., the world’s largest economy.
The Fed gathers April 29-30, and economists predict the central bank will cut its monthly asset buying by $10 billion for the fourth straight meeting, leaving purchases at $45 billion. Gold jumped 70 percent from December 2008 to June 2011 as the central bank bought debt and cut interest rates to a record in a bid to boost the economy.
“People will look for more guidance from the Fed meeting,” Roberts said.
In China, the world’s largest consumer, gold imports from Hong Kong declined in March, a report showed today. On April 25, holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest exchange-traded fund backed by the metal, was unchanged at a 12-week low.
Silver futures for delivery in July fell 0.5 percent to $19.619 an ounce on the Comex.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, platinum futures for delivery in July declined 0.3 percent to $1,419.70 an ounce.
Palladium futures for delivery in June dropped 1.3 percent to $800.70 an ounce.