Gold has locked in its largest one-day percentage drop since December as worries about weaker demand from China prompts some investors to reduce their gold holdings.
Gold for June delivery, the most active contract, fell $US27.20, or 2.1 per cent, to settle at $US1,300.30 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This was the steepest drop since futures slid 3.4 per cent on December 19, a day after the Federal Reserve said it would begin winding down its stimulus program.
Tuesday’s drop came as traders considered data showing weaker-than-expected money supply growth in China, the world’s top gold consumer. China’s money supply grew 12.1 per cent in March from a year earlier, missing the People’s Bank of China’s target of 13 per cent growth for the first time since April 2012.
China is due to release its first-quarter economic growth report on Wednesday, and some traders are worried that that report will also leave the market disappointed, said Graham Leighton, a metals broker with Marex Spectron in New York.
“People are a bit nervous about the figure coming out from China, especially after the money supply data we got today, and they just wanted to take some money off the table,” Leighton said.
A World Gold Council report released on Tuesday forecasts Chinese gold demand to stagnate in 2014, remaining at the record 1,187 metric tons consumed in 2013, before climbing about 19 per cent over the next three years.
“Chinese consumers brought forward jewellery and bar purchases, which may limit growth in demand in 2014,” the report said.
Still, gold prices finished Tuesday’s pit session well off their intraday lows, as some investors rushed in to purchase the precious metal below the psychologically important $US1,300 level, brokers said.
“People are looking to buy in on this weakness,” said Bob Haberkorn, a senior commodities broker with RJO Futures in Chicago.
Gold prices had been advancing in recent weeks, with futures up 8.1 per cent so far this year, as escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine fanned investor interest in haven assets. Gold’s value isn’t linked to a government or country, which makes some investors to view it as a safer bet than Treasury bonds during periods of geopolitical upheaval.
Settlements (ranges include open-outcry and electronic trading):
London PM Gold Fix: $US1,298.00; previous PM $US1,325.75
Jun gold $US1,300.30, down $US27.20; Range $US1,284.40-$US1,328.40
May silver $US19.489, down 52.1 cents; Range $US19.220-$US19.995
Jul platinum $US1,444.60, down $US22.80; Range $US1,430.40-$US1,468.30
Jun palladium $US795.90, down $US15.60; Range $US786.50-$US809.95