World markets crashing and burning over the coronavirus crisis, the one asset that’s supposed to be protecting investors is letting them down. Gold tumbled more than 3% on Friday, joining the carnage in oil and on Wall Street, where the S&P 500 headed for its worst weekly slump since the financial crisis of 2008. Gold futures for April delivery on New York’s COMEX were down $57.50, or 3.5%, at $1,585 per ounce, falling off the key $1,600 berth. The last time a benchmark gold futures lost more in a day was in February 2018, when it slumped 4.6%. For the current week, the contract lost 3.7%. But for the month it managed to stay flat and in the positive. Spot gold, which tracks live trades in bullion, was at $1,585.55, down about 3.5% or more on both the day and week and about 0.3% lower on the month. Gold was a safe haven that many investors piled into over the past month as tremors over the coronavirus crisis slowly built. Earlier this week, the yellow metal hit seven-year highs just short of $1,700, raising hopes that it might have a shot later in the year at cracking the $1,900 record high. Yet over the past four sessions, both gold futures and bullion descended into the red, before finally tumbling on Friday. Two reasons were cited by analysts: higher margin calls imposed on gold traders and selling by hedge funds to cover losses elsewhere. “Why are we not at $1,700 on gold? That’s because hedge funds do not want a disastrous February performance and need to sell winning gold positions to counter their losing stock holdings,” said Ed Moya at New York-based online trading platform OANDA. Others exited because of higher margin calls imposed on gold trades, which meant “they need cash to stay or they need to leave,” said George Gero, managing director at RBC Wealth Management. Still, there were buillish hopes that after Friday’s shakeout, gold would attempt a return to $1,600.

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