With no earnings and no yield, gold is subject to a lot of technical scrutiny – and anyone studying the metal's fundamentals right now are sifting through their record books.
Bespoke Investment Group noted on Monday that gold is so far below its 50-day moving average that it is at its "most oversold reading since at least 1975."
James Mackintosh, investment editor at the Financial Times, pointed out that gold broke through a far longer-term technical threshold: On Monday, it slid beneath its 200–week moving average – a line it has hovered above for its entire 12-year bull market.
Dennis Mark of National Bank Financial noted on Sunday that gold had already broken through its "well advertised support" of $1,525 (U.S.) an ounce. That means it could fall to levels of support at $1,475 and $1,425 an ounce – but with gold falling as low as $1,350 an ounce on Monday, down about $150, that support doesn't look set to hold.
In that case, Mr. Mark believes, the most probable direction is down: "A failing rebound indicates a confirmed breakdown from a top and an initial target of $1,200."
Trading volumes for popular gold-focused exchange-traded funds are no doubt attracting additional attention. The trading volume for the $50-billion SPDR Gold Trust fund spiked to 80 million units by Monday afternoon, about four-times the recent daily average.
That raises the concern over whether big investors are getting out – and whether a cascade of selling will further weigh on gold. At the end of 2012, hedge fund manager John Paulson held 21.8 million units in the SPDR Gold Trust fund, putting him in the middle of such speculation.
Still, not everyone is fretting. Stephen Suttmeier, technical research analyst at Bank of America, argued that gold can "retrace" its rally – or give up a significant portion of its recent gains – without surrendering its bull-market status.
"The pattern for gold is a consolidation of a longer-term uptrend," he said in a note on Monday. "Bull markets can remain bull markets and retrace 38.2 per cent to 61.8 per cent of the advance."
So far, it's not quite at a 50 per cent retracement from the 2008 to 2011 rally.