NEW YORK (
fell Friday for the fourth day in the trading week after prominent hedge fund managers revealed their reduced holdings in the yellow metal.
Gold for April delivery sank $26 to settle at $1,609.50 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The
traded as high as $1,636 and as low as $1,596.70, while the spot price was plunging $28.20, according to Kitco's gold index.
Gold prices during Friday's session were touching their lowest levels since a close at $1,590.70 an ounce on Aug. 2,
when the precious metal continued to flounder from a lack of central bank action on monetary easing
"It's [gold] following the pattern of the week and the past couple of weeks, quite frankly, where it's breaking down and being pushed lower, and that's in part as a response to the relatively strong earnings that you're seeing both in the United States as well as Europe,"
Oliver Pursche, co-portfolio manager at GMG Defensive Beta Fund, said in an interview
George Soros pared his holdings in Gold ETF
SPDR Gold Trust
in the fourth quarter to 600,000 shares, from a previous 1.32 million shares, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Prices struggled in the fourth quarter to sustain
a boost past $1,750 an ounce after the Federal Reserve announced in early September its unprecedented open-ended mortgage-backed securities purchasing plan
Julian Robertson of Tiger Management eliminated his position in
Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF
, but held his shares of
Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF
John Paulson of Paulson & Co. maintained his position in the commodity.
for March delivery dipped 50 cents to close at $29.85 an ounce, while the
U.S. dollar index
was increasing 0.1% to $80.47.
Adding a weight on the gold market were
better-than-expected reports on consumer sentiment and New York manufacturing
The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index printed at 76.3 for February, which was better than analysts' consensus of 73.5. The New York Empire State manufacturing survey came in at 10 for February, which was higher than the forecast for a flat read on the month.
Gold prices often move contrary to economic data, and the positive reports diminish the appeal of gold as a hedge against economic uncertainty.
Offsetting the positive data was a
survey that showed industrial production fell 0.1% in January. Economists expected a 0.2% increase.
One analyst argued that Friday's economic reports weren't enough to significantly boost or slam markets.