Gold ‘Getting Hit From All Directions’ as Investors Flee Funds

Updated on
  • Futures posted fifth straight weekly loss as equities rally
  • Investors have reduced holdings in ETFs for 20 days in a row

What’s Behind Gold’s Slump?

Everything’s against gold at the moment.

Gold futures closed at the lowest level since February as the Federal Reserve gears up to raise rates, while U.S. equities at record levels lure money out of havens and fund holdings wither. Assets in bullion-backed exchange-traded funds contracted for a 20th straight day as of Thursday, the longest stretch since May 2013.

The precious metal is ending 2016 on the ropes as investors price in the Fed’s probable move next week, pushing bond yields higher amid the likelihood of further hikes in 2017. A gauge of the dollar has climbed since the U.S. election, while the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average are at all-time highs amid speculation President-elect Donald Trump’s policies will spur growth. Investors are also assessing the European Central Bank’s decision on Thursday to tweak its bond buying.

“The rally in the dollar, bond yields edging higher and the positive performance of the equity markets are signs of risk-on appetite, which is negative for gold,” said James Steel, chief precious-metals analyst at HSBC Holdings Plc in New York. A rate hike “looks pretty likely.”

Gold futures for February delivery fell 0.9 percent to settle at $1,161.90 at 1:59 p.m. on the Comex in New York. It’s the lowest close since February. Bullion dropped 1.3 percent on the week for a fifth consecutive weekly loss, the longest run since November 2015.

For a QuickTake on gold’s ups and downs, click here.

“Gold’s getting hit from all directions,” said Tom Kendall, head of precious metals strategy at ICBC Standard Bank Plc in London. “We have very weak physical markets, we’ve had this surge in bond yields and equities, ETF outflows and talk of Trump’s fiscal stimulus, all of which conspired to push down prices.”

More Pain

Investors see a near 100 percent probability U.S. policy makers will raise the benchmark rate at their Dec. 13-14 meeting to deliver the first rate increase of the year. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index surged 3.9 percent in November for the biggest monthly increase in two years.

The metal’s most accurate bullion forecaster tracked by Bloomberg in the third quarter said there may be more pain ahead. Barnabas Gan, an economist at Singapore-based Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp., sees gold at $1,175 an ounce in the first quarter, $1,150 in April to June, $1,125 in the third period and $1,100 by the fourth.

“With the U.S. Fed most likely to raise interest rates next week by 25 basis points, the firmer dollar is a very, very strong factor to limit any rally,” Gan said. Aside from the Fed’s decision, the rhetoric markets will be looking for is on the trajectory for rates into 2017, according to Gan.

In ETFs and other metals:

  • Gold ETF holdings fell 3.3 metric tons on Thursday to 1,839.4 tons, the lowest since June, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
  • Silver futures for March delivery dropped 0.8 percent to $16.967 an ounce on the Comex.
  • Platinum futures for January delivery declined 3.1 percent $915.00 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while palladium futures for March delivery dropped 0.5 percent to $735.05 an ounce.

— With assistance by Ranjeetha Pakiam

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