Gold bears are betting that the rout in the metal isn’t over, sending assets in the biggest bullion-backed fund to the lowest since the month that Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed.
Holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust slid 0.3 percent Tuesday to 738.8 metric tons, the lowest since September 2008. Oil’s tumble into a bear market and the Federal Reserve’s exit from bond buying has cut the appeal of bullion as a hedge against rising consumer costs.
Gold is heading for its first consecutive annual drop since 1998. Prices surged for 12 straight years through 2012, with buying accelerating after Lehman’s 2008 bankruptcy spurred a rout across global markets and central banks increased money supplies. Six years later, the runaway inflation that some investors were betting on hasn’t materialized and U.S. equities have climbed to records.
“The whole thesis of the financial world coming to an end has disappeared,” Peter Jankovskis, who helps oversee $1.9 billion as co-chief investment officer of Lisle, Illinois-based OakBrook Investments LLC. said Tuesday. “Concerns about inflation have been washed away from the system. We will probably see more investors exiting gold if the equity market continues to soar to new highs.”
On the Comex, gold futures for December delivery dropped 0.2 percent Tuesday to $1,167.70 an ounce in New York, the lowest settlement since July 2010. Prices are down 2.9 percent in 2014.
Assets in the SPDR gold fund have slumped 7.4 percent this year. Investors are selling gold as the Fed moves closer to its first interest-rate increase since 2006. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index climbed to a five-year high this week. Rising borrowing costs reduce the metal’s allure because the commodity generally offers investors returns only through price gains, while a stronger dollar typically cuts demand for a store of value.
Holdings in global gold ETPs fell by 115.7 tons this year to 1,647 tons. In 2013, an outflow of 869.1 tons helped wipe more than $73 billion from the value of the funds. The world holdings reached a record 2,632.5 tons in December 2012, surpassing reserves held by Italy and France at the time.
Gold climbed 70 percent from December 2008 to June 2011 as the U.S. central bank bought debt and held borrowing costs near zero percent in a bid to shore up growth. Prices slumped 28 percent last year, the most in three decades. The American labor market has had “solid job gains,” Fed policy makers said Oct. 29 as they ended their third round of asset purchases.
U.S. inflation as measured by the Fed’s preferred gauge, the personal consumption expenditures price index, has remained below 2 percent for more than two years.
In September, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. reiterated its forecast for bullion to decline to $1,050 by the end of 2014. The chances are increasing that gold will drop to $1,000 as the cost of oil tumbles, Societe Generale SA’s Michael Haigh said last week.
“Not many people see the need for a safe haven,” Adam Klopfenstein, a senior market strategist at Archer Financial Services in Chicago, said in a Monday telephone interview. ‘We could see further correction in gold prices.’’
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