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Why Gold and Other Commodities Are Getting Killed

Copper, Gold And Silver Bullion Manufacture At KGHM Polska Miedz SA Smelting PlantCopper, Gold And Silver Bullion Manufacture At KGHM Polska Miedz SA Smelting Plant
A KGHM mark sits on a newly cast gold bullion bar ahead of export at the KHGM Polska Miedz SA smelting plant in Glogow, Poland, on Monday, March 23, 2015. Photograph by Bartek Sadowski—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Commodities like gold, iron ore, and copper have been taking it on the chin of late as the globe prepares for higher interest rates in the U.S. and an even stronger dollar.

The spot price for gold bounced around 5 1/2-year lows Friday morning with a troy ounce going for $1,083.44 in European trade, according to the Wall Street Journal. Copper prices, often seen as a gauge of global economic health because of the metal’s widespread industrial use, also touched a six-year low of $4,787.50 per tonne, according to Reuters. Other commodities like iron ore and oil remain cheap too, with the latter falling as much as 2.7% on Thursday.

Analysts were in general agreement that the carnage was the result of global markets keeping a close watch on the Federal Reserve Thursday. Fed officials, in a series of speeches, strongly hinted that they will raise interest rates in December, but that further movement on that front would be gradual. Higher interest rates will continue to put upward pressure on the dollar, which has already risen 15% since July of 2014, but Fed officials are undeterred. In a speech Thursday, Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fisher said:

While the dollar’s appreciation and foreign weakness have been a sizable shock, the U.S. economy appears to be weathering them reasonably well, notwithstanding their large effects on certain sectors of the economy heavily exposed to international trade.

Commodites traders, in other words, should continue to expect the Fed to court a higher dollar, and therefore relatively weak commodities prices.