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Long gold as a crisis hedge: A loser’s game?

Gold rallied this week as investors sought shelter under its safe-haven status amid emerging market turmoil, but according to one analyst, going long gold as a crisis hedge may not be the smartest trade out there.

"The real next leg higher in gold is going to be based on rising inflation rate expectations, not on some crisis bid based on Argentina defaulting again. So for now, I think we've seen the short-term highs in gold," Tom Essaye, President at Kinsale Trading told CNBC's "Asia Squawk Box."

Spot gold prices hit a two-month peak of $1,278 on Monday as fears over a sharp sell-off in emerging market currencies hit global equity markets, but the precious metal has since retreated sharply to trade around $1,256 an ounce.

(Read more: Gold to tank in 2014: Goldman Sachs)

"From a crisis standpoint, $1,280 is about as good as you're going to get, unless we see real material deterioration in emerging markets or in China," Essaye said.

AP

With the Federal Reserve expected to announce another $10 billion reduction in its monthly stimulus program, talk is building that inflation will arrive in earnest in 2014. Earlier this month, Jim Paulsen, chief market strategist at Wells Capital Management, wrote in a report that "stronger economic growth," and rising factory utilization could lead to "a modest rise in the U.S. inflation rate."

(Read more: Will the Fed throw emerging markets a bone?)

According to Essaye, investors should wait to buy the precious metal on dips from current levels.

"I think you can wait until gold comes in around the $1,225 or lower range and you want to buy those dips. I think the low is in at gold at $1,200 or $1,180 so I think you can buy in that range and just accumulate; you wait until inflation starts creeping in around the second or third quarter of this year," he said.

(Read more: Ciao Fibonacci! Charts may signal gold's next move)

Clifford Bennett, author of the brushTURKEY report, also sees further downside ahead for gold. He believes once China's official purchasing manager's index (PMI) is released, "it could well show manufacturing continued to expand, and all the panic of the last week was ill founded," which will spark gold selling.

By CNBC.com's Nyshka Chandran. Follow her on Twitter @NyshkaCNBC

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