Futures & Commodities

Gold down about 4%; palladium faces worst week ever

Freshly cast gold ingot bars sit in the foundry at the JSC Krastsvetmet non-ferrous metals plant in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.
Andrew Rudakov | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Gold reversed course on Friday, tumbling as much as 4.5% and heading for its biggest weekly decline since 1983, as investors preferred cash and continued to sell bullion to meet margin calls across other markets.

Palladium, meanwhile, dived more than 8%, a day after a 28% plunge, and was heading for its biggest weekly percentage decline on record.

Spot gold was down 3.8% at $1,517.38 per ounce. For the week, it was down more than 9%. U.S. gold futures shed 4.6% to $1,516.60.

"While equity markets continue to be under pressure and there is a push towards liquidity across the markets, it wouldn't be unusual for gold prices to sell off as well," Standard Chartered Bank analyst Suki Cooper said.

"In the near-term, gold could see further downside because of the need to meet margin calls across other markets and if investors are preferring to move to cash and reduce risk exposure across the board."

A sharp rebound on Wall Street on Friday largely fizzled out following reports that U.S. President Donald Trump will declare a national emergency over the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump said earlier on Friday that he would hold a news conference about the pandemic at 3 p.m. EDT. He did not provide more details.

Bullion has lost more than $180 since hitting more than a seven-year high of $1,702.56 per ounce on Monday, as market participants used the safe-haven metal to meet margin calls.

"Gold and equities have been positively correlated over the most recent days, but today the metal couldn't really rally when stocks backed up, which is a troubling sign and indicates that spec longs are retreating to cash, the safest haven," said Tai Wong, head of base and precious metals derivatives trading at BMO.

Denting bullion's safe-haven appeal, the dollar jumped 1.2% to a two-week high.

On the physical side, major Asian hubs saw activity dwindle due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, especially in the world's biggest gold consumer, China.

Palladium fell 7.8% to $1,689.33 per ounce, and was headed for a weekly decline of more than 34%.

"Palladium remains extremely volatile. The metal still has plenty of downside potential from a technical perspective. In addition, there has been more and more negative fundamental news for palladium of late," Commerzbank analysts wrote in a note.

Platinum dropped 3.7% to $734.74 and was down more than 18% for the week.

Silver fell 2.4% to $15.45, putting it on track for its biggest weekly decline since 2011.