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Fool’s gold? Traders suggest getting out of gold now — here’s why

A man handles gold bars and coins.
Akos Stiller | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Gold futures have staged quite a comeback in the past three weeks, rising as much as 7 percent from their Dec. 20 low, and breaking a few technical milestones on the way.

The precious metal was above $1,200 per troy ounce and broke above its 50-day moving average on Thursday, the first session on which it has done either since November.

Yet not every strategist thinks the gold gains can continue.

"We recommend holders of the yellow metal look to take profits here," Oppenheimer's head of technical analysis, Ari Wald, wrote to CNBC on Thursday.

For Wald, the key level for the metal is not $1,200, but $1,250, given that "this is the November breakdown level, gold's falling 200-day moving average and the 50 percent retracement of the losses from last summer's peak."

With gold below this key area on the chart, the metal is not an especially attractive holding, and "should continue to create this jerky up-and-down behavior this year."

To be sure, such moves may have more to do with what's happening in the bond market than in the gold market proper. The plunge gold has suffered since the end of September has come as bond yields have skyrocketed, taking the dollar higher.

A rising dollar and rising yields are bad news for gold, given that it takes fewer more-valuable dollars to buy the same amount of gold, and rising rates make nonyielding gold look worse as a safe haven asset in comparison.

With the Federal Reserve currently looking to raise short-term rate targets three times this year after its December hike, investors ought to stay away from the metal, according to Eddy Elfenbein, editor of the Crossing Wall Street blog.

"Things still look bad for gold long term," he wrote. "Whenever real short-term rates are rising, that's bad for gold. ... Each increase takes a bit out of gold."

For their part, futures traders appear to think that two rate hikes in 2017 are a more likely outcome, according to the CME Group's FedWatch tool.