Gold Slips as Euro Weakens

May 15, 2013 at 10:30


Gold hit a three-week low on Wednesday, stretching its losses into a fifth straight session, as the euro weakened on disappointing European growth numbers and firm equities lured away investors.

Gold had risen earlier in the day as outflows from exchange-traded funds halted, but reversed direction after the euro slid to a six-week low against the dollar on data showing Germany grew by a weaker-than-expected 0.1 percent in the first quarter and France slipped into recession.

Bullion’s safe-haven appeal has also been dented by U.S. equities at record highs, signs of an improving U.S. economy and fears of a slowdown in demand from top consumer India.

While spot gold has recovered about 7 percent from a two-year low plumbed in mid-April, prices are still down more than 14 percent for the year, on track to snap a 12-year winning run.

“I think what the market is concerned about is ETF outflows,” said Dominic Schnider, an analyst at UBS Wealth Management. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we touch $1,405 an ounce in a short period of time. I would assume that it would help revive some physical demand,” he said.

The holdings of the SPDR Gold Trust, the largest gold-backed ETF, were unchanged at 33.8 million ounces on Monday, after having fallen almost daily.

But the holdings were still within sight of their lowest level since March 2009, hit this month after funds cut exposure to bullion following its historic April fall.

Gold prices were also pressured as buying in India came to a halt after the central bank limited imports following a surge in buying last month that pushed up the trade deficit.

India’s gold and silver imports surged 138 percent in April on the year as customers exploited the lower prices.

But India’s import curbs are having only a small impact on spot gold prices, a dealer in Hong Kong said.

Premiums for gold bars in Hong Kong were at $3 to $4 an ounce, the dealer added, compared with $3 last week. Hong Kong is China’s main source for gold imports.

Gold hit a low of $1,321.35 in April after a break below the key psychological level of $1,500 ignited selling and Cyprus’ plan to sell excess gold reserves prompted speculation other indebted euro zone countries could follow.

But Portugal will not replicate the Cyprus deal, Bank of Portugal Governor Carlos Costa said.