At two-year low, gold market 'horrendous'
By John D. Oravecz
Published: Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
The gold market dropped like lead on Monday, with the price slumping to a two-year low.
“In 33 years, I have seen some ups and downs, but never a blood bath like this,” said Eddie Lowy, owner of Banner Coin Exchange, Downtown.
Experts blamed the turbulent trading on reasons ranging from the Japan government's effort to end deflation, an unexpected slowdown in China's economy, to speculators buying and selling gold bullion without enough physical metal in their possession to settle trades.
Gold prices fell 9.3 percent on Monday, tumbling $140.30 to $1,361.10, the biggest two-day drop more than in 33 years. On Friday, gold tumbled 4.1 percent.
Overall, gold is down 20 percent in 2013, and nearly 30 percent from its all-time trading highs over $1,900 per ounce in September 2011. Gold had climbed every year since 2001, as investors bought the metal both as protection against inflation and as a so-called safe haven.
Yet gold prices are nowhere near the lows of the late 1990s, when the precious metal hit about $250 per ounce.
“I have been inundated with calls from customers,” Lowy said. “About 90 percent were sellers and about 10 percent buyers. Of the buyers I have only been able to do business with about half because when I call New York or Boston to order replacement product, the brokers have doubled or tripled commissions or flat out refused to sell.”
Lowry said one customer came in to buy coins from him, saying major dealers stopped selling.
“I have never seen anything as horrendous. ... Fear and emotion control any financial market, stocks, bonds, commodities; it's happening so quickly,” Lowy said. “It reminds me of the 1987 stock market crash. It was a free-for-all.”
Even so, gold dealers said Monday they expect prices to stabilize and head back up. But they were divided on when.
Louis Stanasolovich, an award-winning financial planner and CEO of Legend Financial Advisors in Ross, said, “Gold could be down for a while, unless there's a panic around the world, but gold will eventually come back. It may not be now.”
In 2010, when gold was on its way up, Stanasolovich said he expected it to hit $2,000 within five years, and $3,000 over 10 years.
“We came close to $2,000, and it's still possible we could hit $3,000 in ten,” he said.
Stanasolovich said his firm recently sold about half its position in gold because “we didn't think it would appreciate. ... Now we're thinking about selling all of our position,” which it holds for the firm's 401(k) plan and for clients.
Stanasolovich believes the decline is being caused by the Japanese government's effort to stimulate its economy by artificially increasing the supply of money, which reduces interest rates. The policy reduces the value of the Japanese yen, making it cheaper than the U.S. dollar. As the dollar appreciates in value, that drives the price of gold lower, he said.
Gold's decline to a two-year low is “close” to a buying opportunity, said John Taylor, chief executive of currency hedge fund FX Concepts LLC in New York. He predicted gold will stabilize between $1,250 an ounce and $1,400 and that the metal is attractive at $1,300. “The governments are very much involved,” Taylor said. “They don't want deflation.”
Ted Young, owner of Young's Jewelry and Coins in Rochester in Beaver County, said the gold market will straighten out in a month or so before it starts going back up. “The (Federal Reserve) keeps pumping money into the economy, so it's got to turn around,” Young said.
Mark Roup, owner of Gold Buyers of Pittsburgh, an area dealer with nine locations, said, “I think the price from here will just bounce back. I think gold will go up to $2,000 in the next year. Any time the price goes down, its gets investors in — that's what we've seen.”
Pittsburgh-area gold dealers said the volatility hasn't hurt their businesses, generally because most customers are selling because they need the money, or they aren't up to date on gold price trends.
“The price of gold would have to dive by $500 to make a difference” in customers selling, Roup said.
The price of gold will affect jewelry, but it doesn't happen quickly, said a spokesman for Goldstock Jewelers, Downtown. That's because prices at the counter include more than the market price for materials — the design and brand, as well as costs for manufacturing and profit for the seller. The price of diamonds hasn't changed, for example. Plus, it is unlikely a piece is entirely gold — typically 14- or 18-karat gold is used, which are about 58 percent and 75 percent gold, respectively.
There is little call for gold jewelry as an investment, said John Walker, director of coins for Treasure Hunt, a Pittsburgh-area gold dealer with nine locations.
Despite the fall in prices, customers are still coming in to sell, Walker said. “We post our prices so people can see what the market's up to,” he said. Most transactions are in gold or silver coins, which are priced by weight.
The face value of an one-ounce American Eagle gold piece — $50 — is a non-issue, and on days like Monday, prices change minute-by-minute, he said.
Bloomberg News and Marketwatch conttributed to this report. John D. Oravecz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7882 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Highmark’s insurance profit falls 32%
- Corbett: Coal is working
- ATI takes 1st-quarter loss, but says outlook is good
- PNC’s CEO elected board chairman
- BNY Mellon notches $661M profit in 1st quarter
- AT&T joins crowded field with online video plans
- McDonald’s profit slips amid weak sales
- Mastech Holdings records 51 percent profit jump in 1st quarter
- Young visionaries at PieceMaker Technologies Inc. see future in 3-D
- Earthquakes could affect Beaver Valley nuke plant more than first thought
- ‘Old GM’ defense expected in court fight over faulty ignition switch