Commodity Weakness Persists

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Gold prices declined on Monday, holding ground at a more than five-month low as gains in U.S. stocks and bitcoin prices dented the metal’s investment appeal.

U.S. stocks traded mainly higher, with benchmark stock indexes trading at or near records, and interest in popular virtual currency bitcoin high as futures trading in the cryptocurrency made its debut Sunday.

February gold GCG8, >+0.01% lost $1.50, or 0.1%, to settle at $1,246.90 an ounce, marking the lowest finish since July 20, according to FactSet data. It also settled Friday at its lowest in nearly five months. Gold was down about 2.6% for last week, for a third-straight weekly loss.

Among exchange-traded funds, The SPDR Gold Trust GLD, >-0.20%  was down 0.3% in Monday trading, while the VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF GDX, >-0.41%  fell 0.4%.

Gold prices got a brief lift following a terror attack at New York City’s Port Authority bus terminal.

Investor attention, however, remained fixed on the two-day Federal Reserve meeting, from which an interest-rate hike has already been widely priced in to financial markets. That looming likely hike has helped to keep nonyielding bullion’s price in check as investors show preference for yield-bearing assets. Less certain is how the Fed could approach continued rate increases—policy makers have penciled in three more next year but doubts from low inflation readings persist.

The probability of the Fed hiking rates Wednesday stands at 90.2% according to CME’s FedWatch tool.

That “means the disappointment in wage growth won’t shift the needle for U.S. monetary policy,” said Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM, in a note. “However, it isn’t the rate hike that will move the dollar on Wednesday, it’s the tone, economic projections and the dot plot.”

The U.S. is “getting closer to a deal on tax reforms [and] the Fed might become slightly more hawkish,” he said.

Ahead of the Fed decision this week, the ICE U.S. Dollar index DXY, >-0.17% fell less than 0.1% to 93.83—off the session’s 93.67 low, which had contributed to modest gains for dollar-denominated gold early Monday.

March silver SIH8, >+0.07% fell 0.2% to $15.785 an ounce, after losing around 3.5% last week. The iShares Silver Trust SLV, >-0.86%  fell 0.6%.

“Speculators, having positioned themselves for a break [for gold] above $1,300 per ounce, got wrong-footed on a combination of a U.S. tax deal moving closer and the stronger dollar,” said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank, capturing the recent decline.

“The fading interest could be a sign that traders in search of volatility have moved to bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies instead. It also highlights that gold’s primary source of support all year, apart from dollar weakness during the first half, has come from real money investors seeking tail-end protection against market risks elsewhere,” he said.

Cameron Winklevoss, half of the twins made famous by their role in Facebook’s FB, >+0.05%  early years, told Bloomberg he believes bitcoin is a “gold disruptor” that could see 20-fold gains. Bitcoin is up some 1,600% so far this year, as measured by its trading on CoinDesk. Read more on his call in the Need to Know column.

In other metals trading, March copper HGH8, >-0.20%  rose 1.1% to $3.012 a pound. January platinum PLF8, >+0.07% rose 1% to $892.80 an ounce. March palladium PAH8, >-0.43%  added 0.2% to $998.75 an ounce.

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