Gold’s worst start to a year in a quarter century and the biggest sales by investors on record are increasing concern that bullion’s longest rally since the end of World War I is ending.
Investors sold 106.2 metric tons valued at $5.4 billion from exchange-traded products in February, the most since their creation in 2003, data shows. Another 26.1 tons was cut since then. Credit Suisse Group AG and Barclays Plc say the 12-year rally will peak in 2013 and billionaire George Soros reduced his stake in the biggest ETP by 55 percent in the last quarter. Prices are within 4 percent of a bear market after the longest run of monthly losses since 1997.
Hedge funds are now their least bullish since 2007 as economies accelerate and Federal Reserve policy makers review stimulus. Bullion as much as doubled after central banks, led by the Fed, started buying more than $3.5 trillion of debt from December 2008 to restore growth. With global equities at a four- year high and the dollar at its strongest in seven months, eight of 13 analysts surveyed said they expect lower average gold prices in 2014 than this year.
“There is a belief that the world economy is improving,” said John Toohey, a San Antonio, Texas-based vice president of equity investments at USAA Investments, which manages more than $54 billion of assets. “We are especially seeing the signs in U.S. and that may at some point lead to higher interest rates. It seems as if the fast money is moving out of gold.”