Investors in exchange-traded products like ETFs and ETNs have sold 653 tons of gold so far in 2013 and driven the amount of gold in the securities to its lowest level since May 2010, according to Barclays research published on Monday.
Barclays said the outflows removed 24 percent of the total gold the ETFs and ETNs held at the end of 2012.
In early 2013, metal held in these products hit a record high, after years of a remarkably optimistic bull run for gold.
But if gold prices fall below $1,300 an ounce in coming weeks, a further significant chunk of such gold holdings could turn into a loss for many investors, wrote the analysts.
Gold prices opened at $1,312/oz. on Monday morning.
“Gold continues to take its cue from macro data and FOMC [Federal Open Market Committee] guidance,” said the research note.
The relationship between the price of gold and the value of the U.S. dollar, the direction of stock markets and the yields of benchmark 10-year U.S. treasury bonds all stayed very close, wrote the analysts.
That view partly clashes with the claim that the traditionally tight inverse relationship between gold prices and U.S. real interest rates could weaken in coming years.
Unless the broader economy weakens considerably, gold will continue to rely on demand from investors buying physical gold, the note said.
The World Gold Council is expected to reveal the extent of global gold demand for the past quarter in a report due Aug. 15. Physical demand from Asia is anticipated to be strong.
Barrick Gold Corporation (NYSE:ABX), the world’s largest gold producer, reported gold production of 1.8 million ounces in its latest quarter, up 4 percent from the year before and beating its internal company expectations.
Despite that, the company took a 22 percent decline in profit in the second quarter, chiefly due to regulatory obstacles facing its Chilean Pascua-Lama project.
Other major gold producers, including Kinross Gold Corporation (NYSE:KGC) and Compania de Minas Buenaventura SA (NYSE:BVN), reported flat or falling production for the second quarter.
As prices have fallen, gold has become less profitable for these producers, leading to a slight tightening of gold supply.
Investors will also focus on inflation data due Aug. 15, according to a research note on Friday from HSBC Holdings PLC gold analyst James Steel. Investors will likely take a wait-and-see approach as they await further news about the timing of the Federal Reserve’s tapering of bond purchases.
“Investors may have drawn a line in the sand around the USD1300/oz. psychological level, in regards to QE withdrawal expectations,” wrote Steel in the Friday note.