The price of gold was hovering around the $1,575 an ounce level on Friday after a tumultuous February that saw the metal lose 5.5% in value.
February was the fifth down month in a row for gold, something that hasn’t happened since January 1997.
The recent weakness of gold was sparked by US Federal Reserve minutes showing changes to its quantitative easing program are contemplated for March.
The Fed’s asset purchases under QE which floods markets with cheap money to the tune of $85 billion a month increases gold’s allure as a hedge against inflation amid currency depreciation.
Any changes to this dynamic is bad for gold and many investors have been betting that the QE-fuel is running out by abandoning gold-backed exchange traded funds in droves.
Gold blog The Tell quotes a research note from Barclays showing just how skittish gold ETF investors have become:
Net fund length in Comex gold is at its lowest since December 2008; fresh gross short positions are at their highest since July 1999 and ETP flows are set to mark the weakest month on record,” analysts at Barclays said in a note Friday.
Net outflows between Feb. 20 and Feb. 25 topped 10 metric tons on a daily basis, the analysts said. The bulk of the redemptions have materialized in the largest gold ETP, the SPDR Gold Trust, down 58 metric tons for February, they said.
In a report issued Friday, EPFR Global said investors pulled $4.23 billion out of sector funds in the final week of February — and of that, over 95% came from gold and precious-metals funds.
“Although the biggest chunk of those outflows came from a signal gold ETF, well over half of the gold funds tracked by EPFR Global failed to take in fresh money,” it said.