Gold price drops to six-week low

On Tuesday, gold suffered its worst trading day since late March as exceptional housing numbers in the US put a June rate hike by US Federal Reserve firmly back on the table. It would only be the second interest rate increase in the US in a decade and expectations of more aggressive monetary policy also boosted the dollar, which usually moves in the opposite direction to the gold price.

In heavy trading of nearly double usual volumes gold futures in New York for delivery in June, the most active contract, closed near its lows of $1,228.30 an ounce. Gold has been losing ground steadily since hitting a 15-month high above $1,300  an ounce at the end of April but remains up nearly 16% in 2016.

Large gold futures and options speculators or "managed money" investors such as hedge funds have stayed bullish on the metal despite recent headwinds and last week added to already historically high bullish positions.

Large gold futures and options speculators such as hedge funds have stayed bullish on the metal despite recent headwinds

Hedge funds dramatically raised bearish bets on gold during the final months of 2015 pushing the overall market into a net short position – bets that gold could be bought back at a lower price in the future – for the first time since at least 2006, when government first started to collect the data.

The trend was thoroughly reverse this year however with investors building large bullish positions. Last week hedge funds cut shorts and added to longs – bets that the gold price will rise – pushing overall levels to close to the highest level since the August 2011. Gold futures peaked at an all-time high above $1,900 an ounce that month.

According to the CFTC's weekly Commitment of Traders data up to May 17 released on Friday on a net basis speculators are now long more than 22.7 million troy ounces or 708 tonnes.