Gold & Silver

Gold prices steady; focus shifts to timing of US rate hikes

Reuters Bengaluru | Updated on January 13, 2018 Published on February 20, 2017

gold

Gold prices held steady on Monday, with investors looking ahead to a clutch of speeches from US Federal Reserve officials later in the week for clues on the timing of possible interest rate hikes.

Spot gold had inched down 0.1 per cent to $1,233.61 per ounce by 0538 GMT, while US gold futures fell 0.4 per cent to $1,234.8.

“We expect muted trading to start the week in Asia with a US holiday today, although a break in gold of $1,231 may flush away some nervous long positions,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.

Bullion may break support at $1,233 per ounce, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

US markets are closed on Monday for the Presidents Day holiday.

At least five Fed officials are due to speak this week, while Fed Board Governor Jerome Powell appears on Wednesday.

Cleveland Fed chief Loretta Mester said on Monday she would be comfortable raising interest rates at this point if the economy kept performing the way it did.

Speculation the central bank could hike as soon as March has generally underpinned the greenback. The dollar was mostly unchanged against a basket of currencies at 100.92 .

Bullion is highly-sensitive to rising US interest rates, as these increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.

“On the fundamental side, although a stronger dollar and buoyant US equities could potentially act as a drag on gold, other variables will likely prevent a more significant selloff," said INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir.

Concerns over US President Donald Trump's policies, as well as elections in Europe, fuelled gold's rise to a peak of $1,244.67 on February 8, the strongest in nearly three months.

The metal has risen nearly 8 per cent in 2017.

“In the short term, bullion prices could be underpinned by political issues ... However, the end of the year story will likely be a bearish one simply because of the interest rate hikes that may be injected into the economy and also a stronger dollar,” said OCBC analyst Barnabas Gan.

Meanwhile, data showed on Friday that speculators cut their net long position in COMEX gold for the first time in three weeks in the week to February 14.

In other metals, silver fell 0.2 per cent to $17.96 per ounce, while platinum shed 0.4 per cent to $997.24.

Palladium slipped 0.3 per cent to $773.10 per ounce, after touching its highest since Janruary 24 at $795.1 in the previous session.

Published on February 20, 2017
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