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Gold slips after hitting 1-week high on trade war fears

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Gold prices slipped on Wednesday after hitting a one-week high on news that a top economic advisor to the Trump administration had resigned, stoking fears of a trade war and knocking down the dollar.

[NEW YORK] Gold prices slipped on Wednesday after hitting a one-week high on news that a top economic advisor to the Trump administration had resigned, stoking fears of a trade war and knocking down the dollar.

Market watchers said the departure of economic adviser Gary Cohn, a former Wall Street banker, would embolden protectionist forces in the US administration as President Donald Trump tries to impose hefty tariffs on steel and aluminium.

The US dollar and global stock markets initially sagged on the Cohn departure.

The greenback staged a steady recovery during US trading against a basket of major currencies, while Wall Street shares pared initial losses, as doubts persisted over whether the proposed tariffs would be enacted.

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Spot gold dropped 0.6 per cent at US$1,325.51 per ounce by 1.34pm EST (1834 GMT), after touching US$1,340.42, its highest since Feb 26. US gold futures for April delivery settled down US$7.60, or 0.6 per cent, at US$1,327.60 per ounce.

"It's a little profit-taking from hitting highs yesterday. The mode today is risk-off for everything, not just commodities, equities, even cryptocurrencies are down," said Michael Matousek, US Global Investors trader.

"It became a risk-off mode because people are unsure of the direction the government is going to take about a lot of things."

While a possible trade war could be positive for gold, South Korea agreeing to denuclearisation talks could pressure gold, traders said, keeping gold in a tight trading range.

Mr Trump said on Tuesday he saw "possible progress" regarding North Korea after South Korea said Pyongyang is willing to hold talks with the United States on denuclearisation and will suspend nuclear tests while discussions are underway.

Gold is used as an alternative investment during times of political and financial uncertainty, and a weaker dollar makes the metal cheaper for holders of other currencies.

Support for gold could be found below US$1,300 per ounce, said Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist for US Bank Wealth Management.

Meanwhile, silver fell 1.4 per cent at US$16.49 per ounce, after hitting its highest in more than two weeks on Tuesday.

"Silver increased (on Tuesday) almost twice as sharply as gold, pushing the gold/silver ratio slightly below 80 again. In historical terms silver is still far too cheap, however - and in our opinion unjustifiably so," said Commerzbank in a note.

Platinum fell 1.7 per cent at US$952.70 per ounce, earlier dipping to US$945.70, a two-month low. Palladium declined 2 per cent at US$966.40, having hit US$961.55, its lowest since Feb 9.

REUTERS