Futures & Commodities

Gold slides, palladium plunges over 15% in scramble for cash

Andrew Rudakov | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Gold prices dropped nearly 2% to a near two-week low on Tuesday, while palladium slumped 15.5% as investors scuttled for cash to cover losses in other asset classes mainly driven by a crash in oil markets as the coronavirus wrecks economies.

Spot gold slipped 1.3% to $1,671.68 per ounce, having earlier hit a low since April 9 at $1,659.68. U.S. gold futures settled 1.4% lower at $1,687.80.

Palladium fell 9.5% to $1,958.00, having earlier fallen to $1,827.92. Platinum was down 3.3% to $745.29 and silver dipped 4.3% to $14.71.

"Oil has really got the entire commodity complex down with it ... A lot of people are exiting positions that they were very profitable on with a wait-and-see attitude to see whether there's further spillover from the energy into precious metals," said Bob Haberkorn, senior market strategist at RJO Futures.

Brent crude futures plunged 25% to the lowest in nearly two decades, a day after panicked traders sent U.S. oil below minus $40 per barrel on fears of a historic glut due to demand destruction by the coronavirus pandemic.

The nosedive in U.S. crude prices and dismal corporate earnings reports ignited fears over lasting damage to the global economy from the pandemic, sending global stocks lower.

Bullion has on occasion moved in tandem with equities recently, especially as sharp sell-offs in wider markets force investors to sell precious metals to meet margins calls and cover their losses.

"The historic collapse in oil prices and rising fears over a severe global recession may create another dash for cash, essentially exposing gold prices to downside shocks as the dollar appreciates," said FXTM analyst Lukman Otunuga.

"Although the unfavourable global macroeconomic conditions, chaos surrounding the coronavirus outbreak and gloomy outlook for oil markets could accelerate the flight to safety, gold may not be the first destination of safety for investors."

Gold, considered a safe store of value during political and financial uncertainty, has been facing tough competition from another safe-haven, the dollar, in which it is priced. A stronger dollar makes gold expensive for holders of other currencies.

However, a wave of stimulus measures by central banks to ease economic damage from the new coronavirus pandemic and inflows into exchange traded funds (ETF) are likely to keep gold supported, analysts said.

Holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed ETF, are now at their highest in over three years.