Gold extended losses on Tuesday, having hit the lowest level since July 8th on Monday on reinforced speculations the Federal Reserve may reduce its monetary stimulus earlier than expected as the US economy outlook brightened. Assets in the SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest bullion-backed ETF, remained at the lowest since January 2009 for a fourth consecutive day, adding to bearish sentiment. A weaker dollar relieved some pressure.
On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for settlement in February traded mostly unchanged at $1 221.90 per troy ounce at 09:50 GMT on Tuesday, after hitting a 5-month bottom at $1 217.20 yesterday. Prices swung between days high and low of $1 225.40 and $1 219.30 an ounce respectively. Gold plunged 5.3 percent in November, the most since June when prices touched a 34-month low of $1 180.50 per troy ounce, and the biggest drop for a November since 1978.
The precious metal has fallen 27% so far this year and is heading for the first annual drop since 2000 as investors lost faith in the metal as a store of value amid a rally in U.S. equities to a record and muted inflation.
A study by Bloomberg indicated that the 14-day relative-strength index fell to 30 yesterday, signaling to some analysts that the price may be set to rebound.
Fed stimulus outlook
Recent upbeat readings from the U.S. signaled the the nation’s economic recovery proved to be sustainable and reinforced speculations about an earlier-than-expected reduction in Fed’s monetary stimulus.
The Institute for Supply Management reported yesterday that manufacturing growth in the U.S. accelerated to the highest in 2-1/2 years. The ISM Manufacturing index surged to 57.3, defying analysts’ projections for a decline to 55.0 from 56.4 in October.
The report showed activity in the manufacturing sector expanded for a sixth consecutive month and the overall economy grew for the 54th straight month. The new orders, production, employment and inventories sub-indexes also advanced, while supplier deliveries slowed.
The New Orders Index increased in November by 3% to 63.6 and the Production Index jumped by 2% to 62.8. The Employment Index posted at 56.5%, an increase of 3.3% compared to October’s reading of 53.2. This reflects the highest level since April 2012 when the Employment Index registered 56.8%. Supplier deliveries fell to 53.2 from October’s 54.7.
“As long as U.S. economic data shows improvement, the probability of sooner-than-later tapering becomes more real, which should keep downward pressure on gold prices,” said Wang Xiaoli, chief investment strategist at CITICS Futures Co., a unit of China’s biggest listed brokerage, cited by Bloomberg.
Investors will also be keeping a close watch on the upcoming release of crucial U.S. economic data to further gauge whether the Federal Reserve will commence scaling back its monthly bond purchases earlier than expected.
On Thursday, December 5th, the preliminary US GDP for the third quarter is expected to be revised upward to 3.1%, up from initially estimated at 2.8% in October.
On Friday, December 6th, the Labor Department will release the keenly anticipated data on non-farm payrolls and rate of unemployment for November. According to analysts’ projections, numbers will probably show that US employers hired 183 000 workers in November, compared to 204 000 in October. This will be the largest annual gain in payrolls since 2005. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate is projected to lower to 7.2%, the same rate as in September and the lowest since November 2008.
Howard Wen, an analyst at HSBC Securities (USA) Inc., said, cited by Bloomberg: “The gold market may focus on the upcoming release of U.S. payrolls data. A better-than-expected employment report may increase expectations of a Fed tapering announcement from that meeting and thus weigh on gold prices.”
The FOMC’s October meeting minutes pointed that Federal Reserve officials may reduce their $85 billion in monthly bond purchases “in coming months” as the economy improves. Central bankers are set to reconvene on December 17-18th.
Last month, a survey by Bloomberg revealed that the Fed will probably trim its asset purchases to $70 billion from $85 billion at its March 18-19th meeting.
A weaker dollar relieved some pressure on gold. The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s performance against a basket of six major peers, declined by 0.19% on Tuesday to reach 80.77 at 09:49 GMT. The December contract held in a day’s range between 81.01 and low of 80.78. The index settled last week mostly unchanged after falling by 0.75% in the preceding two weeks. Weakening of the dollar makes commodities priced in it cheaper for foreign currency holders and boosts their appeal as an alternative investment.
Assets in the SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest bullion-backed ETF, remained unchanged for a fourth consecutive day at 843.21 tons on Monday, the lowest since January 2009. Outflows have totaled nearly 464 tons this year. Billionaire hedge-fund manager John Paulson who holds the biggest stake in the SPDR Gold Trust told clients on November 20 that he wouldn’t invest more money in his gold fund because it isn’t clear when inflation will accelerate. US inflation is still well below the Fed target of 2.00%.