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Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Gold prices fell for the first time in five sessions on Wednesday and by the most since March 31, after rising to their highest since late 2012 on Tuesday. A stronger dollar helped clip the value of the precious metal, which has risen by nearly 10% so far this month.

What's happening: In an unusual trend, gold has moved largely in concert with stock prices recently, upending their typically inverse relationship.

What it means: The correlation with equities is largely explained by the actions of central banks, which have unleashed an unprecedented level of monetary policy easing, experts say.

  • The IMF said Tuesday that "central banks have announced plans to expand their provision of liquidity — including through loans and asset purchases — by at least $6 trillion and have indicated a readiness to do more if conditions warrant."

One level deeper: While gold is a safe haven, it is also an alternative to both fiat currency and other assets. Gold pays no interest or dividends, so it is sought by investors when inflation expectations are low.

  • Central bank easing has buried expectations for inflation to rise and also pushed investors out of assets like U.S. Treasury bonds and into risky assets like stocks, pumping up the price.

What to watch: Even at its current value, "gold is a rational trade," Alicia Levine, chief strategist at BNY Mellon Investment Management, tells Axios.

  • "Central banks printing money is part of the reason that gold has and will probably continue to have a bid for a while."
  • "It’s not just an expression of a safe-haven play, it’s also a way of protecting from fiat currency being devalued."

Go deeper

Biden's pick to lead major banking regulator drops out

Saule Omarova, nominee for Comptroller of the Currency, at a confirmation hearing on Nov. 18. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

President Biden's pick to head one of the country's most powerful banking regulators is dropping out of consideration for the post, according to a statement from Biden that accepted the withdrawal.

Why it matters: Saule Omarova, nominated to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, faced a tough path to confirmation — with opposition from Republicans and moderate Democrats.

Judge temporarily blocks Biden vaccine mandate for federal contractors

Photo: Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked President Biden's vaccine mandate for federal contractors nationwide.

Why it matters: It's the latest setback in the Biden administration's rollout of COVID-19 vaccine requirements. Federal judges in two states temporarily barred the administration from enforcing mandates for millions of workers last week.

Biden threatens Putin

Photo: Kremlin Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In a video call that lasted for just over two hours on Tuesday, President Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that if Russia invades Ukraine the U.S. will impose unprecedented sanctions and provide additional weaponry to the Ukrainians, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.

Why it matters: Russia's military activity on the border with Ukraine has triggered alarms from the U.S. and its European allies of a potential large-scale Russian invasion in early 2022. Sullivan said Biden made clear to Putin that, "things we did not do in 2014, we are prepared to do now."