Gold futures dropped more than $100 an ounce at one point in European trading hours on Monday, deepening their descent after entering bear-market territory last week, while prices for industrial metal copper also slumped following economic data from China that fell short of expectations.
Gold for June delivery tumbled $93.40, or 6%, to $1,407.60 an ounce, but has dropped to as low as $1,384.60. Gold last week lost 4.7%.
The losses exceeded gold’s heavy drop on Friday, when it lost $63.50, or 4.1%, to $1,501.40 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Friday’s settlement price marked a 20.5% drop for the most-active contract from the record settlement of $1,888.70 an ounce reached on Aug. 22, 2011.
Traders and analysts have cited numerous reasons for gold’s breakdown.
Sentiment has suffered due to recent cuts to price forecasts for the precious metal and outflows from gold exchange-traded products. Among those calls, Goldman Sachs, last week lowered its average gold-price forecast for 2013 to $1,545 an ounce, a level it took out last Friday.
“Any traders who were anticipating a near-term bounce in the precious metal today would have been caught out in a big way as it broke below Friday’s low of $1,481, and didn’t look back,” said Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG Markets in Melbourne in a note to investors. “The drop only halted at $1,426, which was a resistance zone in December 2010 and March 2011.”
Shamu said gold’s tumble has largely been blamed on potential central-bank sales to shore up fiscal shortfalls. “This is after ECB President Mario Draghi put pressure on Cyprus to sell its excess gold reserves to help fund the bailout and plug a €6 billion gap. Although Cyprus is yet to decide how it’ll fund the gap, these comments have rattled investors and caused the selloff.”
He said this has also triggered a “breakdown of the gold/quantitative easing relationship we’d gotten used to, where poor U.S. economic readings lead to prolonged QE expectations and in turn a weaker U.S. dollar and stronger gold price. This drop officially puts gold in a bear market.”
Others noted heavy sell orders for gold that went through New York’s COMEX market on Friday. Ross Norman, chief executive officer of Sharps Pixley, said some 400 tonnes were pushed through by sellers last Friday, with another 70 tonnes coming through in Asia and Europe trading.
Copper prices, meanwhile, lost 12 cents, or 3.5%, to $3.23 a pound. Copper’s gain of 0.2% last week was wiped out after China, the world’s second-largest economy, posted quarterly-growth and monthly industrial-production figures that missed analyst expectations.
China’s gross domestic product in the January-March quarter rose 7.7%, slower than growth of 7.9% in the fourth quarter, and below expectations for an 8% gain in separate surveys from Dow Jones Newswires and Reuters.
Among the other Chinese data, March industrial production increased 8.9% from the year-earlier period, missing the Dow Jones Newswires forecast for a 10% gain. The growth was the weakest in more than a year, slowing from a 9.9% average rise for the January-February period.
Oil prices were also tumbling on Monday as the weak China data deepened worries about demand for the commodity.
The ICE dollar index, a measure of the dollar against a basket of six other major currencies, rose to 82.39 from 82.295 late Friday.
European stock markets also kicked off the trading day on a weak footing, while U.S. stock futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street.
Elsewhere in the metals complex Monday, silver for May delivery dropped $2.79, or 11%, to $23.54 an ounce, building on last week’s 3.3% retreat.
July platinum futures slumped $51.90, or 3.5%, to $1,444 an ounce. They fell 2.6% last week.
Palladium for June delivery lost $25.10, or 3.5%, to trade at $684.05 an ounce. Palladium ended last week 2% lower.