Gold drops 2.5 percent after data stirs deflation fears

NEW YORK Thu Jun 21, 2012 3:59pm EDT

A worker grabs pre-cast bars of gold at a plant of refiner and bar manufacturer Argor-Heraeus SA in the southern Swiss town of Mendrisio, March 1, 2012. REUTERS/Pascal Lauener

A worker grabs pre-cast bars of gold at a plant of refiner and bar manufacturer Argor-Heraeus SA in the southern Swiss town of Mendrisio, March 1, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Pascal Lauener

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Gold fell 2.5 percent on Thursday, nearly wiping out this year's gains as renewed fears of a global economic slowdown and disappointment over a lack of aggressive U.S. Federal Reserve stimulus dampened bullion's inflation-hedge appeal.

The metal posted its biggest one-day drop since February 29. Its selloff started on Wednesday when the Fed ended a policy meeting without launching a new round of monetary easing but instead opted to lengthen its "Operation Twist" program aimed at lowering long-term interest rates.

Silver slid more than 4 percent, following steep losses on Wall Street and Brent oil's 3.5 percent drop to below $90 a barrel. Thursday's selloff in assets across the board lessened the need for buying gold to hedge against inflation. .N <O/R>

Deflation worries pummeled precious metals after reports showed weak U.S. manufacturing activity, a shrinking Chinese factory sector and slowing business activity across the euro zone. The data added to fears that Europe's debt crisis and slower growth in the United States and Asia would cause downturns around the globe.

"When you see slowdown in China and in the United States and the debt crisis accelerate in Europe, it leads people to believe that we will have significant depreciation, especially when commodities and precious metals prices have been so tied into the monetary policy," said Jeffrey Sica, chief investment officer at SICA Wealth Management LLC, which oversees $1 billion in assets.

Spot gold fell 2.5 percent to $1,566 an ounce by 3:05 p.m. EDT (1905 GMT), having earlier hit a low of $1,563.88, within 10 cents to turning negative for the year compared with the 2011 close at $1,563.80 on December 30.

The metal briefly broke below $1,530 in mid-May, and is a long way off the record high of $1,920.30 an ounce hit last year.

U.S. COMEX gold futures for August delivery were down $50.20 an ounce at $1,565.60, with trading volume in line with the 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed.

Silver dropped 4.3 percent to $26.90 an ounce.

Technical selling also pressured bullion prices once they broke below $1,580 an ounce, a level of decent support recently. Other analysts are more bullish in the longer term.

CitiFX, Citigroup's technical research unit, said in a note that gold's current price action resembled a pattern seen between March 2006 and August 2007 when the metal rallied sharply after consolidation. It said bullion could steadily rise to $1,795 an ounce.

FED, EUROPE IN FOCUS

Despite recent weakness, money managers said gold should eventually benefit from economic uncertainty.

A fear trade because of Europe's inability to resolve its debt crisis and money printing by central banks will eventually lead to higher gold prices, Sica said.

Gold was up 15 percent for the year after the Fed in January pledged to keep interest rates near zero until at least late 2014. Gold has since tumbled several times, however, after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke mentioned no further quantitative easing or asset buybacks in his congressional testimonies.

Platinum group metals also fell. Platinum was down 1.1 percent at $1,434.90, while palladium dropped 2 percent to $602.78.

(Additional reporting by Jan Harvey in London; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Dale Hudson)

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Comments (2)
dingodoggie wrote:
Gold seems to be caught in a window of about two times its current production costs. Makes sense, in a way, at least until any extreme panic starts or a move to a new gold standard by BRIC nations or similar is made. Safety-oriented investors know that the maximum loss they might have is about 50% because in the long run gold will not go much lower than its production costs.

Jun 21, 2012 5:02pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
RobertReeves wrote:
Did it ever come to your attention that we no longer have a free market?
A long time ago Ted Butler came to me and said that silver was a completely manipulated market. Me being a much younger idiot back then laughed at him.
Well folks I am here now to say………… YES ITS TOTALY MANIPULATED.
From Gold to Crude oil the market is totally fraud!
All you have to do is watch the news and look at the markets.
They say u cant make money in these markets well…………. true but if your JP Morgan or Goldman Sachs your laughing to the bank every week with the hard earned cash of all of our clients.
They are not too big to fail but they are to BIG to get beat by the Regulators.
todays fall out was completely uncalled for. Just because Bernanke was not giving a clear message yesterday as to QE3?????
wow
As well take a look at how the metals close at 1:20pm on opedn out cry market and when the silent sneaky globex open up they crack the market down every day. I think the 24 hour trading is the first think that should be stoped. Its not for emergeny liquidation it for 100% manipulation at its best when nobody is lookin.

Jun 21, 2012 5:30pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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