An employee arranges one kilogram gold bars for a photograph at the YLG Bullion International Co. headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, (Photographer: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg)

Gold Posts Longest Losing Streak Since 2013 as Bears Crush Bulls

(Bloomberg) -- Gold posted a fourth straight monthly decline, the longest stretch of losses since 2013, as more signs of U.S. economic strength bolster the case to raise interest rates and dollar gains make bullion pricier in other currencies.

With holdings in exchange-traded funds shrinking, investors have been building bets on further price declines. As of last week, money managers held the biggest net-short position in futures and options in records going back to 2006. A measure of gold volatility is near the lowest since January.

Gold Posts Longest Losing Streak Since 2013 as Bears Crush Bulls

The precious metal fell out of favor after Federal Reserve policy makers boosted rates twice this year. The Fed is expected to affirm plans for two more hikes at a meeting this week. Traders picked the dollar over the non-interest-bearing metal this year as the haven of choice as geopolitical turmoil and a trade dispute between the U.S. and other global powers roiled markets.

“Gold is constantly being liquidated,” said Phil Streible, a senior market strategist at RJO Futures. “When rates rise, people go after higher-yielding assets and sell metals, which give no rate or return.”

Gold futures for December delivery rose 0.2 percent to settle at $1,233.60 an ounce at 1:30 p.m. on the Comex in New York. The gain cut the metal’s losses to 1.7 percent in July.

An index of gold miners is on track for its fifth monthly decline this year, with Barrick Gold Corp., Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. and Goldcorp Inc. pacing declines in July.

While the Bank of Japan left its key interest rates unchanged Tuesday, traders are now focusing on monetary policy decisions from the Fed and Bank of England later this week. A gauge of the dollar climbed for the first time in three sessions.

Gold bears have the upper hand on a near-term technical basis, Jim Wyckoff, senior analyst at Kitco Metals Inc., wrote in a note Tuesday. Gold bulls’ next upside near-term price breakout is $1,250 an ounce, he said, adding “the lack of fresh, major fundamental news is emboldening the chart-based sellers, most of whom are bearish at present.”

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