ETF investors and hedge funds bail on gold

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In December, $2.27 billion was pulled out of SPDR Gold Shares, the world’s largest exchange-traded fund backed by the metal. That was a third straight monthly loss and the biggest since May 2013.

Money managers have also turned less bullish on bullion, cutting their net-long positions for a seventh straight week to the smallest since February, US government data showed on Friday.

Bullion lost favour at the end of last year, posting the worst quarterly loss since June 2013 as equities rallied and the dollar gained amid improving global growth prospects and increasing odds that the US Federal Reserve will keep boosting US borrowing costs this year.

That has hurt the investment appeal of gold because it doesn’t pay investors yields or dividends.

“The reality is the trend is not in gold’s favour right now,” Bob Haberkorn, a senior market strategist at RJO Futures in Chicago, said in a telephone interview.

“You are fighting the trend if you are trying to buy gold at this level. It is going to take geopolitical events or a change in the tone of the Fed on interest rates to push gold higher,” he added.

Gold futures for February delivery swung between gains and losses on Tuesday, adding 0.3% to $1,155.10 an ounce at 9:58 a.m. on the Comex in New York.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index advanced, poised to enter a bull market as data showed China’s factories and services both ended 2016 on relatively robust notes.

In the US, the S&P 500 advanced in Wall Street’s first session of the new year. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index climbed 0.8%.

To lower levels

Hedge funds and other large speculators pared their net-long positions by 23% to 41,247 contracts in gold futures and options in the week ended 27 December, according to US Commodity Futures Trading Commission figures published three days later. That’s the smallest since 2 February, data compiled by Bloomberg shows.