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Gold rises on fresh trade tensions, Fed rate cut bets

image Gold up nearly 0.6 per cent so far this week. File Photo - BusinessLine


Palladium off from 16-week highs
Gold prices rose on Friday and were on track to post a weekly gain, consolidating above $1,400 as renewed Sino-US trade tensions amid global growth jitters and prospects of an interest rate cut by the US Federal Reserve stoked safe-haven demand.

Spot gold was up 0.3 per cent at $1,407.69 per ounce as of 0426 GMT. Gold has risen nearly 0.6 per cent so far this week. US gold futures were up 0.2 per cent at $1,409.90 an ounce. “We have a slightly weaker U.S. dollar, tensions in the Middle East and once again, prolonged trade dispute between the U.S. and China, which are all supportive,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist, CMC Markets.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell indicated on Thursday that a rate cut is likely at the Fed's next meeting as businesses slow investment due to trade disputes and a global growth slowdown. Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump said China was not living up to promises it made on buying agricultural products from American farmers. The trade spat has spilled over to global markets and exacerbated economic jitters, with weak economic data from Singapore becoming the latest indicator of this trend.

Investors will now scan trade and lending data from China on Friday for confirmation on the fallout of the dispute, with the world's second-largest economy expected to have slowed to its weakest pace in at least 27 years. Adding to global uncertainties, Iran's alleged attempt to block a British-owned tanker heightened tensions in the Middle East in the wake of attacks on tankers and the downing of US drone by Iran in June.

Gold is considered a safe investment during political and financial uncertainty. Also, a slightly weaker dollar was helping gold's case, making the metal cheaper for investors holding other currencies.

However, the dollar did regain some ground, after data on Thursday indicated a pick-up in underlying inflation in the US, along with a solid weekly jobs report, which reduced expectations of a more aggressive 50 basis point cut at the Fed's July 30-31 meeting. “Stronger inflation data has had an impact on expectations of a rate cut, but it hasn't changed the direction,” said McCarthy.

Lower interest rates would support gold because they reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion. On the technical side, spot gold is biased to break a support at $1,404 per ounce and retrace to the next support at $1,387, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Among other precious metals, silver rose 0.2 per cent to $15.14 per ounce, while platinum was steady at $820.50. Palladium fell 0.3 per cent to $1,556.01 an ounce, edging away from a 16-week peak touched in the previous session. ........................BL