By Jon Nadler

The initial excitement in gold prices gave way to gradual disappointment later in the first trading session of the week, and prices drifted down to the $915 area once again.

Gold hit technical resistance near $930 and tried to rise along with crude oil while the US dollar was still showing signs of listlessness in the early morning. OPEC has clearly exculpated itself from the current sky high price levels and pointed fingers at speculative buyers loading up on contracts as the dollar slips lower. There is no shortage if black gold and no need to hike output, according to the oil cartel.

Crude did come off its $117.60 fresh record and traded almost $2 lower at last check. This helped bullion into negative territory. However, all things considered, this would be a time for gold to be trading at least $100 higher. One seasoned trader noted today that the 'exuberance' that helped gold reach $1033.90 last month is simply lacking at this juncture.

New York spot trading ranged from $910.40 to $929.60 today as the participants tried to patch a leaky ship following Friday's fund driven commodity (ex. oil) exodus. There was no economic data to sink speculative teeth into this Monday, therefore, the markets will largely be watching the developments in oil until plenty of market moving data hits the public eye mid week and beyond. Silver lost a substantial 45 cents on the day, quoted at $17.39 and platinum dropped quite a bit as well, losing $40 to $2013 per ounce. All was quiet in palladium, which showed only a modest loss of $2, quoted at $457 per ounce.

The news of the day comes to us from Bloomberg's Claudia Carpenter in London, where she learned that:

Denis Gartman editor of the daily Gartman Letter, is ``abandoning ship on his positive gold outlook after three years, on expectations that efforts to contain food prices will curb demand for the metal as a hedge against inflation.

``Governments have to get together and stop the rise in grain prices, they will do something, Gartman said in a phone interview today from Norfolk, Virginia. ``What if they come in and say you can't expand your positions anymore?

Commodities are in their seventh years of gains, with oil rising above $117 a barrel for the first time and rice rallying for a sixth day. Gold lagged behind gains of most commodities in the past month, and is down 11 percent from a record on March 17.

This is the first time in three years that Gartman is not positive on gold, he said. Most of his subscribers, including large hedge funds and securities companies, probably won't sell gold for now, he said. Gold has more than doubled in the past three years, and rose to a record $1,032.70 an ounce last month as some investors bought the metal as a hedge against faster inflation.

``The relative strength of the market has been waning since early this year, a circumstance that has bothered us but which we were willing to overlook so long as new highs were being made, Gartman wrote in his Gartman Letter today. ``It has bounced today, and we shall sell that bounce and exit, entirely.

Mr. Gartman's shift and decision have sparked a storm of words in various gold forums some of them angry words but, curiously, they appear to be coming from some of the same quarters that have previously lavished praised upon Mr. Gartman when he was unabashedly bullish on the metal. With some 35 countries around the globe practically on the verge of food riots engendered by rising prices, Mr. Gartman is entirely justified in expecting some sort of an official intervention into the grain markets. The better question is, how long before oil and currencies also become the targets of restrictive action in order to avert a slide into a global sized economic cave in.While gold could well be, and will quite likely remain, immune from such manipulation (Behold! I have used the word!) some metallic headgear wearing associations will not view its potential decline in tandem with other commodities in the same way.

Gold is still a religion for many, no doubt. Therefore, you are either with them, or against them. No room for honest trading decisions and level headed advice. To the point that one can even attempt to deny the existence of official stocks. BTW, no one says that gold is not money and that it cannot be looked at as an alternative currency holding. It is, and it should be. The point is, it is not only a currency. It is also a commodity. And, at the end of the day, any and all currencies do go through cycles of strength and weakness. There is no rule book known that say that gold's price pattern is a strictly one way street.

Thus, Mineweb's Lawrence Williams asks :Are we going to see another upwards push, a further fall back, or a steadying period?

and goes on to explain that:

While gold has tended to move with the strength of the US dollar, the correlation is far from an absolute one with many other financial and supply/demand factors coming into play as the price rises or falls. At the moment it seems that rising prices affect the jewellery market quite substantially and perceived peaks bring out investment profit taking. Conversely, as the price falls back towards the $900 level, both sales into the jewellery sector and investor hands have tended to come in to support the price.

The investment side of the market has been seeing some changes with smaller institutions entering the gold investment fray and a corresponding increase in the number of contracts, but at a lower volume, coming into play. To an extent this can make the whole sector much more volatile as these smaller institutions are perhaps less likely to be long term gold investors, but short term opportunists trading in and out on perceived peaks and troughs.

Range trading is seen until fresh economic statistics provide fuel for decisions. Selling into strength still seen as the order of the day and tests of wider price points (lower as well as higher) could materialize. All eyes on oil overnight.

Jon Nadler is a Senior Analyst with Kitco Bullion Dealers Montreal