Gold futures tumbled below $1,400 an ounce, extending the longest slump in almost three months, as the dollar’s rally eroded demand for the metal as an alternative investment. Silver fell to a three-week low.
The greenback climbed to a nine-month high against a basket of major currencies. The euro fell to the lowest in almost six weeks against the dollar as the euro-area’s recession extended to a record sixth straight quarter. Gold has declined 17 percent this year as some investors lost faith in the metal as a store of value.
Prices retreated below $1,400 for the first time since April 19 as stimulus measures by central banks and record-high equity markets fail to accelerate the pace of inflation. While consumer demand for coins and jewelry helped rally the precious metal by 5.7 percent from a two-year low on April 16, gold is headed for its first annual decline since 2000, halting 12 straight years of gains.
“Physical demand can provide some support, but gold cannot do well in a deflationary environment,” Adam Klopfenstein, a senior market strategist at Archer Financial Services Inc. in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “The dollar has emerged as the preferred flight-to-quality instrument, and lots of money has also moved to equities.”
Gold futures for June delivery fell 2 percent to settle at $1,396.20 at 1:38 p.m. on the Comex in New York, after touching $1,389, the lowest for a most-active contract since April 19. Prices dropped for a fifth straight session, the longest slump since Feb. 20.
The metal touched a 26-month low of $1,321.50 on April 16, entering a bear market with prices down 26 percent from a closing high in August 2011. Gold reached an all-time peak of $1,923.70 on Sept. 6, 2011.
Yesterday, holdings in exchange-traded products backed by gold dropped 6.2 metric tons to 2,219.7 tons, the lowest since July 2011, according to Bloomberg data.
ETP holdings have slumped 16 percent in 2013 after gaining every year since the first product was started in 2003. While the selloff has been faster than expected, a further drop will probably mean more price declines, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts including Jeffrey Currie said in a report dated yesterday.
Last month’s plunge in prices fueled retail demand. The U.S. Mint said April 23 it ran out of its smallest gold coins, while Australia’s Perth Mint said volumes jumped to a five-year high. India’s bullion imports may surge 47 percent to 225 tons in the second quarter to meet consumer buying, according to the All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation. Imports by China from Hong Kong more than doubled to an all-time high in March.
Silver futures for July delivery fell 3.1 percent to $22.658 an ounce on the Comex, the biggest decline since May 1. Earlier, the price touched $22.445, the lowest since April 18.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, palladium futures for June delivery advanced 0.3 percent to $729.05 an ounce, the highest settlement since April 11. Platinum futures for July delivery fell 0.7 percent to $1,490.70 an ounce.