In anticipation of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates, gold and other dollar-denominated commodities were widely viewed as vulnerable to higher borrowing costs. That thesis has proven accurate, though it has been just one trading day since the Fed unveiled its first interest rate hike in over nine years.
On Thursday, the SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD), the world’s largest gold-backed exchange traded product, slumped 2.2% on volume that was nearly double the daily average. The pain was worse for gold miners ETFs as the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSEArca: GDX), the largest and most heavily traded gold miners ETF, tumbled nearly 6% on volume that was more than 50% above the daily average.
Gold assets look more attractive in a low interest rate environment as the precious metal is more competitive against assets that pay low interest, like bonds. Additionally, if the Fed holds off on a rate hike, it would suggests the economy is not as strong, which would also help gold attract safe-haven demand.
GDX is off 27.5% year-to-date and the ETF, along with rival gold miners funds, have also been stung by weak copper prices because some big-name gold miners also mine copper.
Potential gold mining victims of slumping copper prices include Barrick Gold (NYSE: ABX), Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM), Buenaventura Mines (NYSE: BVN) and New Gold (NYSE: NGD), according to JPMorgan.
In July, Goldman Sachs warned that copper, which is exposed to macroeconomic headwinds, is currently exposed to diverging monetary policies, deflation and deleveraging in China, the largest consumer of copper.