Gold Falls as Big Investors Shuffle Stakes

NEW YORK ( TheStreet ) -- Gold and silver prices fell Tuesday as the market weighed the moves made by big-name investors in metals during the first quarter.

Gold for June delivery lost $10.60 to settle at $1,480 at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The gold price Wednesday has traded as high as $1,497.50 and as low as $1,471.70. The spot gold price was falling $7.30, according to Kitco's gold index.

Silver prices shed 64 cents to close at $33.49 an ounce. The U.S. dollar index reversed directions and was losing 0.16% to $75.47.

Both silver and gold faced some noise Tuesday as investors digest the latest 13F filings for the first quarter, which don't look good for gold.

George Soros dumped his gold holdings in the first quarter but he did put some money on two large cap miners, Barrick Gold ( ABX) and Goldcorp ( GG).

Soros' closely watched fund added a handful of shares to the two names, raising its position in Barrick to 8,500 and initiating a new position in Goldcorp of 7,600 shares. Soros reduced his holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust ( GLD) to 49,400 and reduced his big share of NovaGold ( NG) to 3.5 million shares from 12.91 million. Soros' bet on the small gold miner was a big boost for shares in 2010 which have fallen 35.8% year-to-date.

Soros did initiate a new position in Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold ( FCX) of 301,300 shares and added to his position of Great Basin Gold ( GBG) bringing his stake to 6 million shares.

John Paulson, who made his name betting against the mortgage market before it imploded, kept his 31 million share stake of the GLD and added 97,540 shares of AngloGold Ashanti ( AU). Paulson sold some of his stake in Kinross Gold ( KGC), but kept his stake in NovaGold the same.

Paulson added 2 million shares of Gold Fields ( GFI), 205,000 of Rangold ( GOLD) and added to his Barrick position with another 500,000 shares.

Although the headlines all zeroed in on Soros selling gold and Eton Park selling 2.2 million SPDR Gold Trust shares, some investment banks built up positions, including JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) with 2.4 million shares.

In the cheaper but smaller gold ETF iShares Gold Trust ( IAU), Soros closed out his position and Franklin Resources dumped more than 16 million shares, but a large portion of the selling was supported by Blackrock Advisors, which initiated a new position of 14.4 million and is incidentally the trust's sponsor.

Silver, on the other hand, was not subject to the same kind of selling. The iShares Silver Trust ( SLV) saw huge bets by Bank of America and JPMorgan, which increased their shares by a combined 10.56 million to be the number one and three holder, respectively. One of the biggest sellers was Citigroup ( C) with 1.5 million shares.

The filings are from January 2011 through March and it will be interesting to see if the heavy selling that silver saw in April and May was in part due to these firms dumping those same silver positions. The ETF has shed 656 tons since April 1st.

The biggest fear among some analysts was that the hot money in ETFs that helped gold and silver rally to record highs would also lead to their downfalls. Some experts predicted that gold should be at $800-$1,000 once the speculative money came out.

The first quarter proved that a lot of the speculative money did come out and gold prices are still holding around $1,500, which begs the question: is gold really resilient? Or is there more of a selloff to come?

Gold and silver were suffering more of a selloff Tuesday as the euro and dollar stayed volatile after Greece hinted it would be open to some kind of debt restructuring. U.K. inflation for April also wasn't helping the metals as it came in hotter than expected at 4.5%. The gold price was down 0.91% in Pound denomination as the higher reading was sparking more aggressive calls for a rate hike, which the Bank of England has been fighting against favoring anemic growth over higher prices. The IMF estimates that the U.K.'s economy will grow 1.7% in 2011 and rates are currency at 0.5%.

"Seasonally strong physical demand and pockets of investment bargain hunting will continue to provide support to gold and also silver in the coming sessions," says James Moore, research analyst at FastMarkets. "However the recent ETF redemptions and exit of large-scale investors ... could provide overhead resistance."

If any rallies are seen as profit taking opportunities then gold and silver will be in for a choppy ride. Phil Streible, senior market strategist at Lind-Waldock, says he likes gold right now and thinks that gold's trend is up, "it looks very solid."

On any big weakness, Streible has been looking to buy silver "that didn't work so well a few weeks ago, but I think that that correction is done with." Streible says when he sees silver down $1-$1.50 in a day that that is a time to get interested.

Gold mining stocks were mostly higher Tuesday. Kinross Gold ( KGC) was up 1.75% at $45.17 while Yamana Gold ( AUY) was down 0.24% to $52.94. Other gold stocks, Agnico-Eagle ( AEM) and Eldorado Gold ( EGO) were trading at $62.09 and $15.14, respectively.

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-- Written by Alix Steel in New York.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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