Another day full of risk off sentiment meant another down day for gold, which has been far more risk asset than safe haven trade this year. Comex gold for June delivery fell $8.40, or 0.5%, to settle at $1,654.00 a troy ounce, extending the yellow metal's losing streak to three days. As we mentioned yesterday, traders have been saying gold's failure to break through the $1,670 an ounce mark could result in some near-term selling pressure. A stronger dollar didn't help matters as the PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish (NYSE: UUP) jumped 0.3% on the day.
In economic news, ADP Employer Services said private employers added just 119,000 new jobs last month compared with 201,000 in March. Economists were expecting and ADP reading of 170,000 and today's disappointment failed to stoke safe haven buying in gold. The Labor Department delivers the April non-farm payroll number on Friday before the open of U.S. markets and it now appears obvious that report had better top the estimate of 160,000 new jobs or could be vulnerable to more downside.
Another ominous sign for gold bulls could be declining stockpiles at gold-backed ETFs. The SPDR Gold Shares (NYSE: GLD), the world's largest gold ETF, has seen its gold hoard fall 2% to 1,274.09 metric tons from a record 1,298.53 metric tons set Nov. 30, 2011, according to the Wall Street Journal. Speaking of GLD, that ETF and the rival iShares Gold Trust (NYSE: IAU) both lost more than 0.4% today.
Silver continues to struggle and the iShares Silver Trust (NYSE: SLV) remains below $30. SLV actually traded below $30 all day and this ETF could be at a make or break point come Friday. The jobs number could really determine the near-term fate of this fund and any disappointment on the jobs front would provide the perfect excuse for short-sellers to hammer SLV.
Copper was nothing to crow about either as the iPath DJ-UBS Copper TR Sub-Index ETN (NYSE: JJC) lost 1.4% on light volume. The Global X Copper Miners ETF (NYSE: COPX) also lost more than 1.4% on light trade. COPX needs to find support at $13 or risk a major decline.
In earnings news, Barrick Gold (NYSE: ABX), the world's largest gold miner, said its first-quarter profit rose 3% to $1.03 billion. The company also boosted its quarterly dividend by 33%. Barrick's mining costs surged to $545 an ounce from $437 in the year-earlier period.
Barrick wasn't enough to keep the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSE: GDX) from losing 1.7%. The Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (NYSE: GDXJ) lost 1.2% while the Global X Silver Miners ETF (NYSE: SIL) lost a surprising 2.6%.