The Business Times

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

Published Mon, Feb 20, 2017 · 04:16 AM

[BENGALURU] 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 edged down 0.1 per cent to US$1,234.28 per ounce by 0319 GMT, while US gold futures fell 0.3 per cent to US$1,235.2.

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

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

Asian share markets were mixed on Monday as political uncertainty globally kept the mood cautious, while the US dollar recouped early losses ahead of the busy week for the Fed.

The US dollar was mostly unchanged against a basket of currencies at 100.93.

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

Cleveland Fed 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, though large long positions leave the market vulnerable to sudden pull backs.

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

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

Concern over US President Donald Trump's policies, as well as elections in Europe this year, fueled gold's rise to a peak of US$1,244.67 on Feb 8, the strongest in nearly three months.

The metal has risen nearly 8 per cent in 2017.

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

Meanwhile, US Commodity Futures Trading Commission 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 Feb 14.

In other metals, silver fell 0.1 per cent to US$17.95 per ounce, while platinum shed 0.5 per cent to US$995.55.

Palladium declined 0.2 per cent to US$774.05 per ounce, down from US$795.1, the highest since Jan 24, in the previous session.



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