Gold tumbled to a five-year low this week, reacting to the increasing likelihood that the Federal Reserve will begin raising interest rates this year, and many experts anticipate the precious metal will continue falling.
But Barron's columnist Michael Kahn
says the plunge may not last too much longer. Gold traded at $1,093.60 an ounce Thursday morning.
"Gold is a falling knife. I am not advising investors try to catch it. The trend is down, and as of [Monday] a fairly sizeable technical pattern is broken to the downside," he writes.
"But there is something intriguing now about the yellow metal, and it has everything to do with fear. Investors seem to be willing to dump their gold holdings en masse even at already depressed levels."
The sharpness of gold's drop, 9 percent in just the last month; trading gaps; and hefty trading volume suggest a "panicky situation [with] investors getting out regardless of price," Kahn says. "That smells of capitulation, and headlines in some popular financial sites are stoking those flames."
Meanwhile, it's not just gold that has hit the skids in recent weeks. Commodity prices have slumped to their lowest level since 2002, as investors await the Fed's first rate hike, which is expected as soon as September.
Oil has slumped to a three-month low, trading at $49.23 a barrel Thursday. The Bloomberg Commodity Index hit a 13-year low Thursday.
Higher interest rates hurt commodities as an investment class, because commodities don't offer income payments. That makes them less valuable compared to bonds and other investments whose income payments climb in tandem with interest rates.
Rising rates also can slow economic growth, decreasing user demand for commodities. The dollar's strength is weighing on commodities too, as many of them are priced in dollars.
“It is a question of choosing which asset class you want to be in and for many investors, commodities are not that asset class,” Edward Meir, a strategist at brokerage firm INTL FCStone, told The Wall Street Journal
. Commodity funds suffered a $1.1 billion outflow during the second quarter, according to EPFR Global.
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