Gold fell below $1,500 per ounce on Friday, a drop of more than 20 per cent from its record 2011 highs, putting it in bear market territory for the first time after 12 years of gains. Prices plunged more than 5 percent Friday to its lowest level in three years, finishing the week at $1,477.60, down $86 an ounce. Massive sell-offs are also seen in other commodities, with silver the biggest faller at 6 percent and crude oil hitting an eight-month low.
“The scale of the decline has been absolutely breathtaking. We tried to rally and that just didn’t get anywhere… there hasn’t been any downside support, it’s like a knife through butter,” Societe Generale analyst Robin Bhar said. “We (gold) have broken the key support level (around $1,535-$1,5340 per ounce). That’s 20 per cent below the $1,923 Comex all-time peak, so we’re now into a bear market.”
Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets, said gold had suffered a “three pronged attack” from a stronger US dollar on the back of speculation that the US Federal Reserve could end quantitative easing by 2014, news that Cyprus would sell its gold reserves, and recent bearish sentiment from analysts such as Goldman Sachs, who advised clients in a note this week to short gold as it lowered its 12-month forecast to $1,390 from $1,550.
An European Commission said crisis-hit Cyprus may need to sell its gold reserves to raise around 400 million euros ($525 million). While Cyprus’ gold sale in itself is small, heavily indebted euro zone nations such as Italy and Portugal could also find themselves under increasing pressure to put their bullion reserves to work.
“If Cyprus can break the gold market, then (there are) many reasons to be worried, with Slovenia, Hungary, Portugal, Spain and Italy in line,” Milko Markov, an investment analyst at S.K. Hart Management, said. “It is a make-or-break moment for gold… if the market can’t handle the reallocation and Cyprus, then there is really a need for a bear market.”
Wary investors continued to cut exposure to gold, with total holdings at the world’s major bullion gold-backed exchange-traded-funds (ETFs) falling to their lowest since early 2012. Holdings of New York’s SPDR Gold Trust fell a further 2.1 tonnes, or 67,710 ounces on Thursday, after a 17-tonne outflow on Wednesday. “Investors are still cautious, and you see that looking at the continued ETFs outflows,” Standard Chartered analyst Daniel Smith said.
Jon Najarian, co-founder of OptionMonster.com, says gold’s weakness is part of a growing body of evidence that the yellow metal isn’t necessarily the alternative currency of choice. “Bitcoin is a sign and a symptom of what’s wrong, but unfortunately gold is not the cure,” he says in the attached video. “Gold is not the beneficiary of all that fear.”
In other words, gold is just another slip of paper being bought and sold on the whims and urges of the crowds. Of course that doesn’t mean gold can’t be traded, just that it’s time to consider it from a trading perspective rather than a storage place of wealth. Najarian says if gold breaks $1,470 then it has got a long way to fall because he doesn’t see additional support until $1,340.