Here is this week’s edition of Futures File, our weekly commodities wrap-up:
On Friday, gold collapsed to the lowest level since 2011, pressured lower by expectations that Cyprus may be forced into selling a portion of its gold holdings. Although Cyprus received emergency bailout funds in recent weeks, the government is expected to take additional losses from bad loans that it made to commercial banks. The island nation is expected to sell more than $500 million worth of its gold holdings to help pay for the losses, which spawned a sell-off in the global gold market.
Record highs in US stock markets and expectations for decreased stimulus from the Federal Reserve in coming months also served to deflate gold bulls’ expectations. During Friday’s sell-off, investors fled gold to put their money into bonds and cash. By Friday, gold had dropped as low as $1,480 per ounce, down more than $95 (-6.0%) during the week.
Gold investors have been particularly disappointed in recent months as “bullish” factors such as increased talk of bailouts in Europe and geopolitical concerns regarding Syria and North Korea did not cause gold to rise.
Gasoline slide continues
Gasoline futures continued their decline this week, dropping to a three-month low. Prices fell as reports from the Department of Energy showed rising supplies and falling demand. Domestic gasoline inventories rose this week, as did crude oil supplies, which are currently at the highest level since 1990.
The US is awash in crude oil primarily due to sharp increases in domestic crude production, especially from states like North Dakota. At the same time, the DOE is indicating decreased US gasoline demand, showing a 2.4% drop over the last four week. These bearish factors combined to drop gasoline futures by another nine cents per gallon this week, falling 3.1%.
Conversely, gasoline’s more buoyant cousin, natural gas has been climbing in recent weeks, reaching $4.20 on Friday, the highest price since 2011. Although US stockpiles are still high by historical measure, they have been slowly dropping as cold spring weather has kept demand for the heating fuel high. Since mid-February, prices have risen a staggering 96 cents, a gain of 29.4% in less than two months.