International gold prices headed for their worst quarter with a 25% drop in the three months through June as the European debt crisis and the scheduled rollback of bullion-friendly stimulus measures in the US hurt the metal in the absence of robust Asian demand.
On Friday,the precious metal was hovering around its meanest level since August 2010 in the US,while it hit a 23-month low in Delhi,mainly due to a weak rupee.
The massive fall in gold started around mid-April when reports that debt-hit Cyprus would offload its gold reserves to meet stringent bailout conditions offered by the European Central Bank stoked fears of other struggling nations in the zone following suit. The precious metal hit a more than two year low of $1,321 an ounce in April before easing further to touch its weakest since September 2010 on June 20 on a broad sell-off stoked by the US Federal Reserve’s explicit signal to end the era of easy money. Gold tends to benefit from loose monetary policy as it is considered a hedge against inflation,and it also gains strength from the weakness of the dollar.
Spot gold dropped to a near three-year low of $1,180.71 an ounce in intraday trade on Friday,although it pared back some of the losses to $1,202.56 an ounce by 1152 GMT,up 0.3% from the previous session. US August gold futures tumbled $9.60 to $1,202.10 an ounce. In Delhi,gold prices lost Rs 1,150 to Rs 25,650 per 10 grams,while Silver dropped by Rs 1,490 to hit Rs 39,010 per kg. The fall in gold prices in India would have been more substantial had the rupee not depreciated significantly in recent months.
The precious metal has lost around 15% in the US since last week when Fed chairman Ben Bernanke laid out a road map to scale back the central bank’s $85 billion monthly bond purchases,buoyed by the strong recovery in the world’s largest economy. Physical gold demand in India,ther world’s top consumer,has remained subdued since mid-May in the absence of any festival,while restrictive measures by the government and the central bank to curb imports have dampened sentiments,helping the price to fall.
Moreover,holdings in SPDR Gold Trust,the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund,remained unchanged at near four-year lows for a second straight day on Thursday,suggesting waning investor confidence in the haven asset. The fund has witnessed record outflows of 12.26 million ounces so far in 2013,having lost 28% to 31.7 million ounces.