The price of gold fell Wednesday, extending the longest slump since December 2011, as economic concerns in the U.S. and China eased, eroding demand for the metal as an investment hedge. Silver tumbled to a six-month low.
Gold futures for April delivery fell 1.6 percent to settle at $1,578 an ounce at 1:44 p.m. on the Comex in New York. The price dropped for the fifth straight session, the longest slump since Dec. 29, 2011. Earlier, the metal touched $1,575.60, the lowest for a most-active contract since July 24
U.S. housing-starts data signaled that construction may add to an economic rebound this year, and home prices rose last month in China, according to the nation’s biggest property website. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of equities has gained 6.9 percent this year, while gold has dropped 5.8 percent. Billionaire investor George Soros cuts his stake in exchange-traded products backed by the metal, government filings showed last week.
“The gold bugs have been obliterated,” James Dailey, who manages $215 million at TEAM Financial Asset Management LLC in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, said in a telephone interview. “The perception about the global economy has changed, and people are moving to riskier assets.”
The Federal Reserve published minutes of January meeting Tuesday, and some policy makers expressed concerns about debt purchases known as quantitative easing.
“A lot of sellers came in after gold broke below the psychological $1,600 mark, and concern about the end of stimulus is adding further pressure,” Vedant Mimani, a portfolio manager at Atyant Capital Management Ltd. in Miami, said in a telephone interview.
Builders broke ground in January on the most U.S. single-family homes in more than four years and permits for future construction rose, Commerce Department figures showed today.
“The economic data is telling us that the economy is definitely showing signs of improvement,” Mimani said.
Soros Fund Management LLC reduced its investment in the SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest fund backed by the metal, by 55 percent in the fourth quarter from the third, government filings showed on Feb. 14. Louis Moore Bacon’s Moore Capital Management LP sold its entire stake and trimmed holdings in the Sprott Physical Gold Trust.
Silver futures for March delivery tumbled 2.7 percent to $28.622 an ounce on the Comex. Earlier, the price touched $28.415, the lowest since Aug. 20.
Platinum futures for April delivery declined 3 percent to $1,647.10 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the biggest drop since May 23.
Palladium futures for March delivery slumped 3.6 percent to $736.40 an ounce, the biggest drop since Oct. 23.
The S&P GSCI Spot Index of 24 raw materials headed for the biggest drop since November. Crude oil tumbled as much as 2.8 percent.
“There is unfounded speculation about a U.K.-based broker or hedge fund under duress forced to close out commodities positions,” Edward Lashinski, director of global strategy and trading at RBC Capital Markets in New York, said in a report.
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