Gold bears retreat as prices reach two-month high

Speculators cut bullish and bearish bets on gold (COMEX:GCU13) simultaneously for the first time in two months as prices advanced to the highest since mid-June on signs of strengthening physical demand.

The net-bullish position rose 18% to 56,604 futures and options by Aug. 13, as the 17% contraction in short bets exceeded the 3% drop in long wagers, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. Net-long holdings across 18 U.S.-traded commodities expanded 23% as the position in silver more than doubled and investors turned positive on copper for the first time since February.

Gold tumbled a record 23% last quarter as some investors lost faith in the metal as a store of value. The rout spurred losses for billionaire John Paulson, who joined George Soros in selling bullion holdings in three months ended June 30, government filings showed last week. Lower prices spurred demand in India and China, the top buyers, driving global coin and bar purchases to record in the second quarter and jewelry purchases to the highest since 2008, the World Gold Council said Aug. 15.

“People became more interested in holding gold as the price dropped,’ said Tom Stringfellow, the president of San Antonio-based Frost Investment Advisors LLC, which manages about $9 billion. ‘‘Sometimes it’s too far too fast, and in this market, there’s money always looking for relative value.”

Gold Rally

Prices jumped 4.5% to $1,371 an ounce on the Comex in New York last week, the biggest gain since July 12. Thirteen analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News expect the metal to rise this week, with a further four bearish and five neutral. That’s the highest proportion of bulls since March 8. Futures climbed another 0.2% today.

The Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index of 24 commodities advanced 2.4% last week. The MSCI All-Country World Index of equities slid 1%. The Bloomberg Dollar Index, a gauge against 10 major trading partners, gained 0.5%, and the Bloomberg U.S. Treasury Bond Index dropped 1.1%.

Global bar and coin sales soared 78% last quarter from a year earlier to 507.6 metric tons as demand more than doubled in India and China, World Gold Council data show. That’s valued at about $22.4 billion at today’s price. Jewelry demand jumped 37% to 575.5 tons. China’s consumption rose 54% to 706.4 tons in the first half, putting it on track to overtake India as the biggest user, the China Gold Association said Aug. 12.

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