Hedge-fund managers are making the biggest ever bet against gold as billionaire George Soros sold holdings last quarter and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicted more declines after the longest slump in four years.
The funds and other large speculators held 74,432 so-called short contracts on May 14, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. That’s the highest since the data begins in June 2006 and compares with 67,374 a week earlier. The net-long position dropped 20 percent to 39,216 futures and options, the lowest since July 2007. Net-bullish wagers across 18 U.S.- traded raw materials rose 1.1 percent to 588,482, led by gains in hogs, corn and cotton.
Gold prices that surged sixfold in the past 12 years fell 19 percent in 2013, including a seven-session slump through May 17 that was the longest since March 2009. Soros joined funds managed by Northern Trust Corp. and BlackRock Inc. in cutting holdings of exchange-traded products in the first quarter. ETP assets are now at the lowest since July 2011 after some investors lost faith in gold as a store of value amid improving economic growth, low inflation and a rally in equities.
“Gold has faced disappointment after disappointment,” said John Stephenson, a senior vice president and fund manager who helps oversee about C$2.7 billion ($2.65 billion) at First Asset Investment Management Inc. in Toronto. “It’s had a 12-year run, but the whole fear-mongering that the world is going to end is just not working. So, I think that any last vestige of an investment thesis for gold has been stripped.”
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