Gold investors seem to agree: Don’t fight the Federal Reserve.
With the Fed’s next policy meeting looming this week, hedge funds are exiting from gold. Speculators cut their bets on a bullion rally by the most in more than three months. Holdings in global exchange-traded funds backed by the metal are down from a three-year high in August. Aggregate open interest in New York futures is mired in the longest slump since May.
Speculation is mounting that Fed officials, in a statement scheduled for release on Sept. 21, will signal that higher U.S. interest rates are on the way. That’s bad news for gold, which thrives as an alternative asset. Through Friday, the metal had surged 24 percent for the year as the policy makers declined to raise borrowing costs.
The Fed is “going to have to eventually raise rates and acknowledge that inflationary pressures have been rising,” Quincy Krosby, a market strategist at Prudential Financial Inc., which oversees about $1.3 trillion, said in a telephone interview. “Certainly, you want to take some profit” from gold investments before that happens, she said.
The net-long position in gold futures and options fell 11 percent to 248,858 contracts for the week ended Sept. 13, the biggest decline since the week ended May 24, according to Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released three days later. A week earlier the holdings were 278,994, the highest since July 5.
Futures traded in New York fell 1.8 percent last week to $1,310.20 an ounce and traded at $1,317.20 on Monday. Gold surged 25 percent in the first half of the year as economic woes in Europe and Asia sparked optimism that the Fed would be slow to raise U.S. interest rates amid global uncertainty. Since then, an improving U.S. economy has put the brakes on the metal’s momentum.
The cost of living in the U.S. rose more than projected in August and moved closer to the central bank’s goal, Labor Department figures showed Friday. At the same time, the dollar has climbed in three of the previous four weeks. Gold prices declined for three straight years through 2015 as the greenback advanced.