admin July 18, 2018

Gold prices on Wednesday were on track for a fourth straight decline, matching their longest such streak in 2018 and putting the yellow metal on the verge of finishing in correction territory for the first time since the end of 2016.

August gold

GCQ8, -0.25%

 was down $2.60 or 0.2%, at $1,224.70 an ounce, putting the commodity on track to shed 1.4% this week. Moreover, the precious commodity has thus far tumbled 10.3% since its peak on Jan. 15 at $1,362.90 an ounce. If the session’s decline holds, that puts gold firmly in correction territory, usually characterized as a fall from a recent peak of at least 10% (see chart below):

Source: FactSet

Gold’s year-to-date moves from peak to trough

A finish in correction territory would be the metal’s first such tumble since the end of 2016, according to WSJ Market Data Group.

The bulk of those losses for gold have come as the U.S. dollar has enjoyed a strengthening trend that has decidedly weighed on commodities priced in the currency. As measured by the ICE U.S. Dollar Index

DXY, +0.24%

which gauges a half-dozen currencies against the buck, the dollar has gained 3.4% so far this year. Gold has a year-to-date loss of 6.6% (see chart below showing the relative moves of the assets thus far this year with the dollar in blue):

Source: FactSet

The ICE U.S. Dollar index has powered higher this year as gold has weakened

Gold’s early downdraft hasn’t occurred without perplexing bulls, with the asset ignoring concerns tied to trade wars that should have provided some support for the asset widely viewed as source of safety and a store of value in times of geopolitical distress. However, many observers have pegged the recent slump to the strength of the buck.

Comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell during Tuesday testimony in front of a Senate Banking Committee implies that gold may be in for a further decline. Powell points to a steady rate-hike path for the U.S. central bank, the Fed’s projections point to a further two rate increases in 2018, that could propel greenback further and lift the rates of benchmark fixed-income assets like the 10-year Treasury note

TMUBMUSD10Y, -0.25%

most recently yielding at 2.86%.

Richer rates for so-called risk-free assets like Treasurys can make gold, which doesn’t offer a yield, less attractive comparatively, exacerbating its downward momentum underpinned by a beefier buck.

Read: ‘Death cross’ forms in gold for first time since 2016, even as stock market slumps

“There are lots of reasons gold has gone down, mainly it’s because of the dollar,” said Fawad Razaqzada, a technical analyst at

Razaqzada said that stock-market sentiment has entered a markedly upbeat phase, which has diminished the appeal of havens. Indeed, the Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, +0.09%

 has gained 1.6% so far this year, the S&P 500 index

SPX, -0.06%

is up 5.1%, while the Nasdaq Composite Index

COMP, -0.23%

closed at a record on Tuesday and has rallied by nearly 14% so far in 2018.

Check out: MarketWatch’s snapshot of the market

“So, risk sentiment is still positive, which is reducing the appeal of safe-haven assets,” he said.

On top of that, a measure of fear on Wall Street, the Cboe Volatility Index

VIX, +2.16%

which reflects bullish and bearish S&P 500 options has retreated dramatically, hovering around a level at 12, which is near its lows of 2018 after spiking in February when stock markets tumbled into correction territory. The VIX’s historical average is between 19 and 20.

The technical analyst said the current dispute between the U.S. and its trading partners in China, North America, and Europe has actually been a negative for gold because it means rising import costs may drive up inflationary pressures. Rising inflation could compel the Fed to raise rates more briskly.

A popular fund tracking gold, the SPDR Gold Shares

GLD, -0.34%

is down 1.1% as of Tuesday’s close.

Meanwhile, September silver

SIU8, -1.04%

 is down 18 cents, or 1.2%, at $15.435 an ounce. Silver is down 2.4% so far this week, with the metal off 12.4% since its Jan. 25 peak at $17.62 an ounce.

Elsewhere on Comex, September copper

HGU8, -0.58%

 is down 2 cents, or 0.7%, at $2.728 a pound. October platinum

PLV8, -1.24%

lost $11.30, or 1.4%, at $808.50 an ounce, while September palladium

PAU8, -0.74%

 traded $8, or 0.9%, lower at $901.20 an ounce.

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