The gold bugs have come out to play.
Gold bounced back Monday after taking a massive beating over the past week or so.
Early Monday, gold prices popped back above $1,400 for the first time in a week. Prices are still a far cry from their record $1,900 level but the modest bounce is encouraging for gold bugs.
It was exactly one week ago that gold prices plunged more than 9% in their biggest one-day sell-off in decades. That appeared to be enough of a rout for big money to come rolling back in.
Hedge funds and commodity trading advisers added to their gold holdings, while cutting back on their short bets that gold would fall further.
According to the latest commitment of traders report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, hedge funds and advisers increased their net long positions to 68,662 contracts, while trimming their short bets to 54,025.
And while hedge fund titan John Paulson, who runs the Paulson Advantage Fund, has seen his gold holdings lose value (he has a 21.75% stake in the SPDR Gold Trust ETF), on balance, he's still up on his investment. Gold was around $905 when he started buying four years ago.
It will probably take more than one day of gains to send the bears packing but for now, investors and StockTwits traders are cautiously optimistic.
Doesn't look like the shorts are ready to jump back into the fray just yet. Gold is holding pretty firmly above $1,400 for the moment. But that doesn't mean the precious metal is completely out of the woods.
Remember, prices hit a record high just above $1,900 back in September 2011. After dropping down to the $1,500-$1,600 level, they'd been pretty steady...until now.
It's tough to read the tea leaves here. Signs of slowing growth in China, Goldman slashing its price forecast and worries about central bank selling continues to underpin sentiment.
For every optimist, there's a pessimist.
I wouldn't count gold out just yet. There's a lot out there to keep investors on edge. And in times of uncertainty, gold almost always looks like a viable alternative.
At the start of the year, Simon Lang was about $1,000 in the hole on his initial Bitcoin investment. But as the price of the digital currency ballooned to an all-time high of $266 last week, Lang found himself $60,000 richer.
But that didn't last very long.
As Bitcoin prices tumbled to around $50 earlier this week, the value of his stake shrank to about $11,000.
"I was surprised at how fast the price went MOREHibah Yousuf - Apr 18, 2013 6:43 AM ET
So much for that weak dollar, huh? The Bitcoin craze may finally be peaking and now another "alternative" currency is plunging too: gold.
Gold, which in its defense is at least a tangible asset, sank 5% Friday and fell below $1500 an ounce. Gold has fallen out of favor lately as stocks have continued to surge. Several Wall Street banks slashed their gold price targets earlier this week.
The MOREPaul R. La Monica - Apr 12, 2013 4:00 PM ET
Wall Street is turning its back on gold.
Both Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank lowered their year-end forecast for the precious metal this week, citing an improving U.S. economy.
Goldman slashed its target to $1,545 per ounce for 2013, down from its previously estimate of $1,610. The bank also lowered its outlook for 2014 to $1,350 an ounce, down from an earlier forecast of $1,490.
Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank reduced its year-end forecast MOREHibah Yousuf - Apr 10, 2013 2:06 PM ET
Gold is making a comeback, at least for today.
The precious metal shot above $1,600 an ounce Monday, as rattled investors looked for safe spots to park off while Cyprus sorts out its banking issues. Over the weekend, it seemed like the tiny nation was going to get its 10 billion euro bailout and it would be business as usual.
But then the strings were attached, in the form of a tax MOREMar 18, 2013 1:23 PM ET
Gold prices dropped to a 7-month low Wednesday, and are on the verge of hitting a technical level that could signal more bearishness ahead.
Gold, which has tumbled more than $200, or 12%, since early October is close to forming a so-called death cross, the term for when the 50-day moving average breaks below the 200-day moving average.
The last time gold prices entered into death cross territory was in April MOREHibah Yousuf - Feb 20, 2013 2:27 PM ET
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Paul R. La Monica. Other than Time Warner, the parent of CNNMoney, Abbott Laboratories and AbbVie, La Monica does not own positions in any individual stocks.
There is a common misconception that gold is only a great thing to own when investors are in full-blown Chicken Little panic mode. But gold has enjoyed a decent rally in the past few weeks MOREPaul R. La Monica - Jan 24, 2013 11:56 AM ET
Gold bugs stocked up on their favorite coin last month in a post-election pop.
Sales of American Eagle gold coins, a popular investment among retail buyers, jumped 130% in November.
The U.S. Mint sold 136,500 ounces worth of American Eagle gold coins in November, up from 59,000 ounces in October. The coins come in various sizes ranging from one ounce to a tenth of an ounce.
The surge in demand came immediately after MOREBen Rooney - Dec 11, 2012 1:01 PM ET
The weak global economy took a toll on demand for gold in the third quarter, according to an industry report released Thursday.
The World Gold Council said demand for the precious metal fell 11% in the three months ended Sept. 30, down from record high levels in the same period a year ago.
The decline was driven by a sluggish market for gold bars and coins in the United States and Europe. MOREBen Rooney - Nov 15, 2012 10:56 AM ET
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Paul R. La Monica. Other than Time Warner, the parent of CNNMoney, and Abbott Laboratories, La Monica does not own positions in any individual stocks.
If Congress and President Obama hurl America over the fiscal cliff, some fearful investors may clutch tightly to gold on the long way down.
Stocks have been hit hard since Election Day as fiscal cliff concerns dominate MOREPaul R. La Monica - Nov 13, 2012 12:44 PM ET
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