Gold is finally having the breakdown that bears had been expecting all year.
Futures in New York fell on Thursday to the lowest since November, trapped in the longest rout in eight months. Prices were little changed in the first half of 2015 as uneven U.S. economic growth helped to stabilize the market after two years of losses. Now, with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen giving an upbeat outlook for expansion, investors are fleeing.
Yellen on Wednesday repeated that U.S. interest rates will probably increase this year. Higher rates cut the appeal of precious metals because they don’t pay interest or give returns like other assets such as bonds and equities. Platinum dropped to a six-year low Thursday, while silver fell for a fourth session. Holdings in exchange-traded products backed by gold are near the smallest since 2009.
“Gold bulls are throwing in the towel,” Edward Dempsey, the chief investment officer at Pension Partners LLC in New York, said in a telephone interview. “If you’re a gold bull you’ve been suffering from not being in equities, and now you’ll suffer from opportunity cost when the Fed raises interest rates.”
Gold futures for August delivery lost 0.4 percent to $1,143.30 an ounce at 9:56 a.m. on the Comex in New York, after touching $1,140.60, the lowest since Nov. 7. Prices are heading for a sixth day of losses, the longest rout since November.
Options trading shows that some investors are expecting more declines. The five options contracts with the most volume on Wednesday were all bets on price drops. A put giving owners the right to sell August futures at $1,140, Thursday’s most-traded option, headed for a second day of gains.
Volatility for the metal has languished, while open interest has climbed to the highest since late 2012 as investors added to wagers on price declines. Short holdings betting on a drop rose 9.8 percent in the week ended July 7 to 108,411 futures and options contracts, the most since the U.S. government data begins in 2006.
“There has been a few hiccups along the way, but the basic bearish story for gold over the past two years is that the Fed is moving towards interest-rate normalization,” Matthew Turner, an analyst at Macquarie Group Ltd., said by telephone from London.
The Fed has held interest rates near zero for more than six years and last raised them in 2006.
Platinum futures for October delivery declined 1.2 percent to $1,009.20 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after touching $1,006, the lowest for a most-active contract since 2009.
Palladium also declined on the Nymex, and silver dropped on the Comex.
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