Bloomberg News

Gold Extends Rout as Haven Investors Target Dollar on Europe

December 15, 2011

Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Gold extended a rout into a fourth day as concern that Europe’s debt crisis is escalating boosted the dollar, raising the prospect that the precious metal may enter a bear market. Platinum dropped to a two-year low.

Spot gold dropped 0.5 percent to $1,566.55 an ounce at 1:46 p.m. in Singapore. The price lost 8 percent in the preceding three days, and is set for the worst weekly fall since the period to Sept. 23. The February-delivery contract dropped as much as 1.2 percent to $1,567.60 on the Comex.

The dollar rose to an 11-month high against the euro yesterday on signs of increased funding stress as Europe battles its debt crisis, driving spot gold to $1,563.38, the lowest level since Sept. 26. Gold dropped below its 200-day moving average yesterday for the first time in almost three years, indicating to some analysts that more declines may be in store.

“People are fearful of everything that’s going on, so once something starts selling off, selling begets selling,” said Rachel Benepe, a portfolio manager at First Eagle Investment Management LLC. “The safe haven of choice continues to be the U.S. dollar,” Benepe said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

Cash platinum fell for a fourth day, losing as much 3 percent to $1,378.50 an ounce, the lowest level since Nov. 13, 2009. Palladium also dropped for a fourth day, declining 0.5 percent to $615.25 an ounce.

Record Holdings

This week’s decline in gold has come even as holdings in bullion-backed exchange-traded funds rose to an all-time high, gaining 0.1 percent to 2,360.810 metric tons yesterday, according to data tracked by Bloomberg.

Spot gold reached a record $1,921.15 in September, and a 20 percent decline from that peak -- regarded by some investors as signaling a bear market -- would be a price of $1,536.92. Gold has dropped 18 percent from the all-time high.

“Technically we’re looking weak,” said Jonathan Barratt, managing director at Commodity Broking Services Pty in Sydney. “As the U.S. dollar picked up strength, everyone just ran from the market.”

Mining shares dropped. Newcrest Mining Ltd., Australia’s biggest producer, fell for a fifth day, losing as much as 4.2 percent to A$30.47. Barrick Gold Corp., the world’s top producer, lost 3.8 percent in Toronto yesterday, the most in a month.

Gold is still set for an 11th year of gains after investors sought to protect their wealth from weaker currencies, falling equities and rising inflation. Within that rally there have been bear-market slumps. In 2008, spot gold tumbled 34 percent from a then-record $1,032.70 in March to the year’s low in October.

‘Fighting Chance’

The metal remains one of the top commodity picks for 2012 as “most of the factors that pushed gold higher in 2011 are not going away,” according to UBS AG, which expects it to average $2,050 an ounce next year. “So long as uncertainty abounds, gold has a fighting chance of outpacing many asset classes,” analysts including Julien Garran wrote in a report yesterday.

Gold’s so-called 14-day relative-strength index was at 27.21 today. The index last dropped below a level of 30, a signal that prices may rebound, in September 2008.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that there is no easy solution to the European sovereign-debt crisis after rejecting an increase in the upper limit of funding for the region’s permanent bailout mechanism. The euro fell below $1.30 for the first time since January, and traded at $1.2988 today.

Spot silver declined for a fourth day, dropping as much as 1.8 percent to $28.40 an ounce, the lowest level since Sept. 26.

--With assistance from Elisabeth Behrmann in Sydney and Adam Johnson in New York. Editors: Jake Lloyd-Smith, Jarrett Banks

To contact the reporter on this story: Glenys Sim in Singapore at gsim4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Poole at jpoole4@bloomberg.net


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