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Directionless Fed Pressures Gold

Gold prices have fallen nearly 7% since Bernanke signaled that the Fed was considering reductions in monetary stimulus on May 22. This year, prices have fallen nearly 25%, wiping out more than $60 billion in value in gold-backed ETFs.

The general downtrend seen in prices reflects a change in market sentiment, as investors question gold's historical position as a store of value with stock markets trading near all-time highs and inflationary pressures almost non-existent. Still, the case can be made that gold valuations are in the process of forming a long-term bottom, as demand in the world's two largest consumer markets (China and India) has improved and is expected to exceed what was seen last year.

But with the directionless position shown by the Fed this week, it makes little sense to step into gold markets at current levels. As investors face continued uncertainty with respect to the over-riding stimulus questions, further liquidation is likely as investors look to reduce exposure to unpredictable markets.

The shift toward cash has already begun, with gold prices showing a strong short-term failure at the closely watch technical resistance level at $1,300 per ounce. The SPDR Gold ETF followed suit, gapping through historical supply levels at 124.30, and trading firmly below its 50-day moving average (130.05). Bias remains bearish as long as prices hold these lows, and continued indecision from the Fed looks set to keep markets in this position for a good portion of the summer.

At the time of publication the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Richard Cox is a university teacher in international trade and finance, focusing primarily on macroeconomics and price behavior in equity markets. His articles appear on a variety of websites, including MarketBulls.net, Seeking Alpha, FX Street, and others. Investing strategies are based on technical and fundamental analysis of all the major asset classes (stock indices, currencies, and commodities). Trade ideas are generally based on time horizons of one to six months.
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