Gold futures rebounded by $1.30 on Thursday to end at $1,595.5 after falling 3.1% this week, the worst week for gold since mid-March. Stoxx and euro/dollar also rebounded on some positive news out of Europe. The European Financial Stability Facility has approved the next payment to Greece, Spain nationalized Bankia and the socialist Greek Pasok Party leader, Evangelos Venizelos, may be able to form a unity government and have Greece stay within the euro zone. Still, a Bloomberg poll shows that over 50% of investors expect Greece will exit the euro zone by the end of 2012.
Gold futures are now up only 1.8% for 2012, having sold off about 11% from the peak in February. The dollar index has climbed in 10 consecutive days as of the Friday Asia morning. The last time this occurred was in early August 2008 when the world financial system was heading into an abyss. Gold fell 14% in the first two weeks of August 2008 while the dollar index rallied 5% compared to a fall in gold price of about 4.5% and a rise of the dollar index of 1.9% in the past two weeks.
While the gold price fell from the February peak, volatility of gold, as measured by the gold ETF (GLD) had actually fallen from 19% to about 14% as of May 3, before the volatility surged in the past few days. Declining volatility in gold may reflect lower speculative interest.
This lack of interest is also confirmed by the Comex data. Total net long positions in gold options and futures held by managed money as of May 1 are hovering at 116,000 contracts, the level back at the end of January, 2009. In the next 8 to 11 months, net long contracts climbed more than 120,000 and gold surged about 30%.
Lower activity by traders and lower net-long speculative positions suggest gold is not a crowded trade.
Barclay's analyst revised down the year-end gold forecast by 8% to $1,716 as gold is behaving more like a risky asset. However, Goldman's analyst maintained his year-end forecast at $1,840 saying that gold is still the currency of last resort. Goldman also expects more easing from the Fed.
Next week, the events to watch are Greek politics, euro-zone preliminary Q1 GDP on Tuesday and the FOMC April minutes on Wednesday.