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Gold edges lower on political drama and firming dollar
[NEW YORK] Gold prices edged lower on Wednesday, pressured by a recovering dollar and an expectation of higher interest rates, but supported by safe-haven buying after the sudden dismissal of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Spot gold declined 0.1 per cent at US$1,324.40 per ounce by 1.36pm EST (1736 GMT), earlier touching US$1,330.02, its highest since March 7.
US gold futures for April delivery settled down US$1.50, 0.1 per cent, at US$1,325.60 per ounce.
"The political uncertainty has limited the downside price risk for gold in a raising rates environment, as opposed to driving prices significantly higher," said Suki Cooper, Standard Chartered Bank precious metals analyst.
Rising interest rates tend to make gold less attractive since it does not bear interest.
Technical Fibonacci support for gold was at US$1,317.20 an ounce with resistance at US$1,336.30, said analysts at ScotiaMocatta in a note.
Gold is seen as a safe haven during times of political and financial uncertainty and benefited on Tuesday when President Donald Trump fired Mr Tillerson after a series of public rifts over policy, replacing him with loyalist CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
Investors have switched to become more risk-averse following the unexpected news of Mr Tillerson's dismissal and the appointment of Mr Pompeo, said OCBC analyst Barnabas Gan.
The US dollar inched higher against major currencies, recovering from a decline caused by the dismissal of Tillerson.
A stronger dollar makes commodities priced in the greenback more expensive for holders of other currencies.
"Pompeo is a supporter of Trump's trade policy and could help advance his agenda of imposing it on US trading partners ... all this uncertainty and risk aversion leaves gold as a safe haven option," Mr Gan added.
Supporting gold was news that Trump was seeking to impose tariffs on up to US$60 billion of Chinese imports and will target the technology and telecommunications sectors.
Meanwhile, data on Tuesday showed US consumer prices cooled in February amid a decline in petrol prices and a moderation in the cost of rental accommodation, the latest indication that an anticipated pick-up in inflation probably will be gradual.
Inflation is a key economic factor the US central bank considers when deciding monetary policy. A strong US inflation reading could raise expectations for future interest rate increases, pressuring on non-yielding bullion.
In other precious metals, silver was barely changed at US$16.53 per ounce.
Platinum was flat at US$960.60 an ounce after touching US$973.20, a one-week high, and palladium dropped 0.2 per cent to US$988.70, reaching a near two-week high earlier at US$1006.30.