Gold was drifting lower on Tuesday in brisk post-holiday trading in the US as the metal seeks direction after hitting three-month highs earlier this month.
Gold for delivery in April, the most active contract on the Comex market in New York, was exchanging hands at $1,237.80 in afternoon dealings, shaving its year-to-date gains to 7.5% on the back of a stronger dollar.
Hedge funds or so-called managed money investors in gold futures and options cut their exposure to the yellow metal further last week according to trader positioning data supplied by the government.
Overall bullish positioning or net longs held by derivatives traders fell 10% to 6.7 million ounces, well below July’s all-time record of nearly 29 million ounces when gold was hitting its 2016 peak.
Large scale speculators in silver is taking a different tack with CFTC data indicating that traders added to long positions and cut shorts – bets that silver can be bought back cheaper in future – at the same time. Net bullish positioning has now reached the equivalent of close to 354 million ounces, a 20-week high.
May silver contracts were priced at $18.06 in afternoon trade in New York, also dragged down by strength in the US currency. Year to date silver is up 11.2% and compared to lows hit January 2016, the metal has recovered more than 30% in price.
Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Danish bank Saxo says “while safe-haven demand for gold has been fairly muted so far, silver continues to enjoy rising demand with the recent surge in industrial metals, not least copper providing some relative support.”