No need for gold

Gold futures declined for the third straight day as gains in the U.S. economy bolstered the case for higher interest rates.

Holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s biggest exchange-traded fund backed by the metal, tumbled 1.6 percent yesterday to 712.9 metric tons, the biggest drop since June 2013. That marked the lowest since September 2008. Futures fell 8.4 percent in the third quarter as the U.S. economy gathered momentum.

Gold slumped last month to a four-year low as the dollar’s rally against a basket of 10 currencies to a five-year high and a surge in equities cut demand for the metal as a store of value. Bullion headed for a consecutive annual loss for the first time since 1998. Jobless claims in the U.S. dropped to the fewest since early November, government data showed today.

“The U.S. economy is on the right track, and speculation about interest rates will keep gold depressed,” Phil Streible, a senior commodity broker at R.J. O’Brien & Associates in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “It’s difficult to make a case for gold.”

Gold futures for February delivery fell 0.3 percent to $1,174.30 an ounce at 9:37 a.m. on the Comex in New York. Aggregate trading was 66 percent below the 100-day average for this time, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In the previous two days, the price declined 1.5 percent.

Silver futures for March delivery dropped 0.1 percent to $15.745 an ounce.

Through yesterday, silver tumbled 19 percent this year, and gold fell 2 percent.

Traders predict a 68 percent chance that the Federal Reserve will raise borrowing costs by September, futures data show. Fed officials last week dropped a pledge to keep borrowing costs near zero percent for a “considerable time,” replacing it with a promise to be “patient,” according to a statement.

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