Is Gold a Bargain at Five-Year Low? One Measure Suggests Not

  • Gold-copper ratio reaches highest since 2011 as copper drops
  • Bullion may be facing a `negative trifecta,' O'Neill Says

Gold that’s trading near a five-year low may look cheap, but at least one measure suggests further declines are in store.

Bullion futures on the Comex are trading at more than five times the price of copper futures this week, the most since 2011, data compiled by Bloomberg show. For comparison, bullion averaged about 3.7 times higher than the industrial metal during the past decade.

Copper fell 27 percent this year through Tuesday, heading for the biggest annual decline since the financial crisis in 2008, while gold lost 9.4 percent.  Copper’s steeper drop reflects concerns over faltering demand from China, the biggest use of the metal. But China is also a big gold buyer, vying with India as the largest bullion consumer.

“Throughout the Asian region with economies slipping, jewelry demand is going to be weak also,” Bill O’Neill, a partner at Logic Advisors in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, said in a telephone interview. “Fundamentally, the gold market doesn’t look good, psychologically it doesn’t look good and the money flows don’t look good. So that’s a negative trifecta.”

Gold futures dropped to $1,073.30 an ounce this year through Tuesday on the Comex in New York. Prices touched a five-year low of $1,062 on Nov. 18. The gold market “could well test $1,000,” O’Neill said.

Traders look at gold’s performance relative to other commodities, including oil, to see if the metal is holding its value.

Money managers are betting on further declines for gold. Assets in exchange-traded products backed by the metal have fallen to the lowest since 2009. Hedge funds are holding a net-short position in gold for first time since August as their long wagers shrunk to the smallest in almost seven years, U.S. government data show.

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