Separate ways: Why gold and oil are moving in opposite directions

Call it a commodities conundrum.

Over the last five trading sessions, the price of crude oil is down 3 percent, while the price of gold is up nearly 3 percent.

That's a bit of an anomaly, because both commodities have been moving in the same direction over the past few months: Down. And while the fundamental pictures for the two differ, both have been harmed by the massive rise in the relative value of the U.S. dollar since July. As each dollar gains in value, it takes fewer of those dollars to buy an ounce of gold or a barrel of oil, so a strong dollar tends to be bad for commodities prices in general.

(Read: Spot gold down in volatile trade after Fed minutes)

Still, that doesn't mean that gold and oil need to travel together all of the time, contends Craig Johnson, senior technical analyst at Piper Jaffray.

"The dollar is up and to me, that's ultimately the key driver for the whole commodity complex," Johnson said. "But I don't see any strong correlation between what you're seeing happening with gold and what you're seeing happening with oil."

Johnson, who is president of the Market Technicians Association, sees the $70-per-barrel level to be a technically significant support level. If crude breaks below there, more downside is ahead, he warned.

Gina Sanchez, founder of Chantico Global, believes that both gold and oil could see more downside ahead, both due to the dollar and to more specific drivers.

When it comes to gold, a solid macroeconomic environment will eventually take its toll, she said.

(Read: WTI settles below $75, traders wait for signs from OPEC)

"The longer-term view is that we continue to see strength in the dollar, that the economy continues to recover—no matter how slow it continues to recover—and that inflation is benign," she said. "None of those things are good for gold."

For oil, both supply and demand appear to be pointing to lower prices.

Sanchez points out that Japan, the world's fourth-largest importer of crude, has just slid into recession. That could point to further declines in demand ahead.

On the supply side, she notes that OPEC is not doing much of anything to significantly cut supplies.

"Until we see supply cuts, this massive glut that we see is going to continue to push oil prices down," Sanchez said. "There is a bottom to that, and that's going to be when Middle Eastern countries can no longer fund their budgets. I think that's below $70."

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