Gold falls to 1-week low on stronger dollar, but holds above US$1,300 level

One kilogram gold bullion bars at the Valcambi SA precious metal refinery in Lugano, Switzerland. (Bloomberg pic)

BENGALURU: Gold fell to a more than one-week low on Thursday, pressured by a stronger dollar, but worries over slowing global economic growth and the spectre of another U.S. government shutdown kept the safe-haven metal above the key US$1,300 level.

Spot gold fell 0.2% to US$1,303.64 per ounce by 0341 GMT, after touching its lowest since Jan 29 at US$1,302.84. Prices fell 0.7% in the previous session in their biggest one-day drop since Jan 18.

U.S. gold futures were down 0.5% at US$1,307.30.

A possible rate cut by the Australian central bank stokes global slowdown concerns and the U.S. dollar has gained on safe-haven interest, pulling down gold, said Ilya Spivak, a senior currency strategist with DailyFx.

Australia’s central bank on Wednesday opened the door to a possible rate cut as it acknowledged growing economic risks in a remarkable shift from its long-standing tightening bias that sent the local dollar sliding.

The dollar index, a gauge of its value versus six major peers, was hovering close to its two-week high.

A stronger greenback makes dollar-denominated gold more expensive for holders of other currencies.

Last week, the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would be patient on further rate hikes, while the European Central Bank sounded less certain that it would start tightening policy later this year.

The Bank of England looks set to trim its forecasts for Britain’s already sluggish growth on Thursday, reflecting the approach of a still uncertain Brexit in just 50 days’ time and a slowdown in many of the world’s big economies.

“Bullion appeal though demonstrating for pricing weakness in the current term, will hold an integral role in 2019 amidst heightened geopolitical and economic uncertainties,” analysts at Phillip Futures wrote in a note.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 slipped amid concerns over growth, disappointing earnings reports and another possible U.S. government shutdown in the wake of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address.

“If there is another shutdown that would stoke concerns about growth which might fuel demand for haven assets like bonds, and gold might gain due to falling treasury yields,” Spivak of DailyFx said.

“But, if the dollar finds haven demand, then gold’s ability to move higher is going to be limited.”

Reflecting lacklustre sentiment, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust , the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell for a fourth straight session on Wednesday.

Liquidity in gold markets is expected to remain light in Asian hours with China closed for the Lunar New Year holiday this week.

In other metals, palladium rose 0.4% to US$1,377.50 per ounce.

Silver was steady at US$15.66, and platinum slipped 0.2% to US$801.50.