Examining Gold ETFs as Precious Metals Enter Bear Market Territory

Michael Teague  |

On Tuesday, April 9th, Deutsche Bank (DB) cut its 2013 and 2014 forecast for gold prices, and did so rather drastically. For 2013, the bank decreased its forecast for gold by 11.8 percent, down to $1,637 per ounce, and the 2014 forecast by 4.7 percent, to $1,810 per ounce.

Citing expectations of the U.S. dollar’s continued strengthening, as well as U.S. GDP growth, Deutsche Bank analyst Daniel Brebner noted that “we expect that gold will struggle to appreciate meaningfully against the U.S. dollar”.

The very next day, Goldman Sachs (GS) followed suit, cutting its price forecast for the precious metal from $1,610 to $1,545 for 2013, and to $1,350 in 2014 down from initial estimates of $1,490. Additionally, the bank mentioned that “a sharp rebound in gold prices is unlikely”, which has been more or less interpreted as an invitation to start shorting the already struggling commodity.

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By Friday’s close, Gold hit a low of $1,478.35, a loss of 5.28 percent on the day, and officially well in to bear-market territory (defined as a 20 percent-or-more drop from the most recent high). The New York Stock Exchange’s SPDR Gold Shares ETF (GLD), meanwhile, dropped 4.70 percent bringing the fund’s shares down to $143.95.

Many explanations have been offered for this outcome, from contracting retail sales to the alleged Cypriot plan to sell 400 million Euros or $525 million of its gold reserves in a desperate attempt to meet conditions put forth in the European Central Bank’s bailout package.

Whether or not there had actually been a plan to finance Cyprus’s debt by such an enormous sale of gold (40 tons), the Cyprus Central Bank denied the rumors. Furthermore, it is unclear how the CCB would have been able to proceed with such a sale, since the European Union treaty stipulates that central banks, which typically control a nation’s gold reserves, are precluded from directly financing government borrowing.

All the same, the mere suggestion of such a scenario seemed to undermine the traditional view of gold as a safe place for investors during tough times. Given the current bull market for equities right now, it would appear that commodities, especially precious metals, will be in for a tough time in the near future.

Other gold ETFs were hit hard on Friday, including PowerShares DB (DGL), down 4.78 percent to $50.65, ProShares Ultra Gold (UGL) down 9.37 percent to $66.66, UBS E-Tracs CMCI (UBG) down 5 percent to $39.13, and the iShares Gold Trust, down 4.68 percent to $14.47.

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