Despite a plunge in the value of the Australian dollar overnight the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AJXO) (ASX: XJO) is tracking lower this morning as investors worry about the impact of rising US interest rates on the global economic outlook.

Moreover, shares in ASX-listed gold miners are getting roundly hammered as the precious metal loses its shine to global investors.

Let’s take a look at what may be behind the precipitous declines in the share prices of the big gold miners today.

Northern Star Resources Ltd (ASX: NST) is a gold miner that has seen its share price fall 5% to $4.46 in trade today as investors react to the prospect of a sooner-than-expected rate hike in the US.

Although a stronger US dollar would lift the profit margins of Australian gold miners the wider macro picture means gold is less attractive to investors who can gain better returns on holding cash, other money market instruments, or longer-term debt linked to US cash rates – all of which offers a better return than non-yielding gold.

Silver Lake Resources Limited (ASX: SLR) shares are down 5.8% to 49 cents as markets turn bearish on the outlook for the US-dollar denominated gold price. Gold prices are falling since the US Fed put a June rate hike back on the agenda overnight and will likely come under heavy pressure if the US economy picks up steam.

Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX: NCM) is down 7% to $19.85 today, after running up around 75% over the course of the past six months. The run-up in share price was due to the softer Australian dollar, although be warned, as that phenomenon may have little impact if cash rates in the US start to normalise.

EVOLUTION FPO (ASX: EVO) shares are down 6.9% to $2.08 today, although it has also surged more than 65% in value over the course of the past six months. Gold miners attract a lot of speculators and short-term traders looking to book a quick profit before the first sign that the golden run in share prices is set to reverse.

Investors in gold miners then can expect further rushes for the exits through 2016 if the US Fed does embark on the rate hiking cycle it has telegrammed in advance to the market multiple times.

In a worst case scenario gold prices could head downhill faster than a triple Olympic Gold Medal winning Austrian skier….

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Motley Fool contributor Tom Richardson has no position in any stocks mentioned.

You can find Tom on Twitter @tommyr345

The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.