Is the bullion run ending?
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Tony Featherstone is a Morningstar contributor and a former managing editor of BRW and Shares magazine.
Gold equities, led by Newcrest Mining (NCM), continue to underperform the broader sharemarket and the gold price.
Gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs) had their biggest outflows in several weeks and a lower gold price in the past two months has prompted some commentators to suggest an 11-year bull run in gold bullion is ending.
The US-dollar gold price has fallen around 10 per cent in the past two months, because of a strengthening US dollar and general investor nervousness.
Renewed fears about the European sovereign debt crisis could continue to put downward pressure on the euro and upward pressure on the US dollar in coming weeks, which suggests ongoing gold price weakness.
ETF Securities, a global provider of exchange-traded products, said in a note this week: "Gold continues to have longer-term price support due to a continued need for highly expansionary monetary policy in the US, Europe, United Kingdom and Japan, with accompanying currency debasement fears and central bank buying."
"But potential further US-dollar strength may act as a weight on further gold price gains in the near term."
ETF Securities said its gold exchange-traded products globally had their biggest weekly fund outflows in three weeks as investors "showed little appetite for gold".
Signs of weaker demand for gold in India, because of the lower rupee and the threat of Indian jeweller strikes, is also unnerving investors.
Gold bullion's price, of course, is notoriously hard to predict.
Prominent commentator Dennis Gartman last year said the gold bull market was in its final stages, only for the metal to move higher.
Not surprisingly, several local commentators have recommended investors focus on ASX-listed gold equities, which had badly lagged gains in the gold price over the past few years.
Their logic was sound enough.
A higher Australian dollar dampened gains for some domestic producers. Exploration and production costs were rising, and gold stocks had fallen, after being caught up in global sharemarket volatility.