Here’s what people aren’t buying right now: Gold.
The yellow metal traded as low as $1,051.60 an ounce on Friday, the cheapest price in nearly 6 years.
Gold prices haven’t been this depressed since February 2010 — before the popular show “Downton Abbey” was even on television — when gold fell under $1,045 an ounce.
This week marked the sixth straight week that gold has lost value.
Normally, investors run to buy gold when they are nervous, but that’s not happening now. Recent events such as the stock market sell-off in late August and the Paris terrorist attacks have not halted gold’s fall.
“A fresh selling effort in gold today is due to several events coming together,” wrote Geroge Gero of RBC Wealth Management. They include:
1. China’s economic and stock market slump. China’s main stock market tanked on Friday after the government launched another crackdown on the country’s largest stock brokers. China’s elite are less likely to spend big on gold if the country’s market and economy remain shaky.
While the Chinese government says the economy is still expanding at close to 7% a year, most independent forecasters believe the reality is a lot closer to 4.5%.
2. The surging U.S. dollar. Most of the world’s gold trades in dollars. That’s not good right now for gold. The dollar is at its strongest point in years against most other currencies. When the dollar gets more expensive, investors cut the price of gold.
Heading into 2016, the dollar is expected to get even stronger — likely getting to a point where $1 equals 1 euro, something the world hasn’t seen in over a decade. That means gold could slip even further.
3. The likely Federal Reserve rate hike in December. The last whammy for gold is the likely Fed interest rate increase in December. Investors widely expect the Fed to finally raise rates off their historic lows near 0% where they have been since the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.
When the Fed raises rates, it’s bad for gold because gold doesn’t pay any interest. There’s an expectation that investors may shift out of gold and into other assets that will pay higher interest.
The latest slide is yet another reminder of just how out of favor gold has become. It hit an all-time high of nearly $1,890 an ounce in September 2011 when Europe was in the midst of its debt crisis and the U.S. credit rating was downgraded.
Most experts predict gold will go lower from here. A prominent gold forecaster says prices could even plummet to $350 an ounce.
Others aren’t so sure it will get that bad. A lot will depend upon China and whether demand for jewelry and industrial metals picks up this holiday season. Sales for jewelers like Tiffany and Signet (the parent company of Jared and Kay) aren’t looking good this year.
“Overall though, nothing is too rosy,” wrote RBC Capital Markets metals research team in a note Friday. The strong dollar and the Chinese economy “will set us up for 2016 one way or the other.”