Gold rises as weak US data supports Fed pause hopes

One kilogram gold bullion bars at the Valcambi SA precious metal refinery in Lugano, Switzerland, on Monday, April 24, 2018. (Bloomberg pic)

NEW YORK: Gold rose on Friday after weak US economic data dialled down chances the Federal Reserve would hike rates this year, and as dismal signals from China and Europe compounded concerns of a global slowdown and supported safe-haven demand for bullion.

Spot gold rose 0.3% to $1,316.66 per ounce by 1036 GMT, on course for a small weekly gain.

US gold futures gained 0.5% to $1,319.90 an ounce.

“The weak retail sales data from the US in the previous session falls in line with general expectations that the Fed will not be pushing through with their monetary tightening as hard as they were planning,” SP Angel analyst Sergey Raevskiy said.

Gold gained 0.5% in the last session after weak US retail sales data, along with soft inflation numbers on Wednesday, added to concerns of slowing growth, which could allow the Fed to hold interest rates steady for a while.

The disappointing US data followed a spate of weak economic reports from China and Europe.

This helped gold hold its ground amid a slight rebound in the dollar, which held close to a two-month peak versus a basket of currencies, as the market awaited developments in trade talks between Washington and Beijing.

Two White House negotiators will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping later on Friday, but there has been no decision to extend a US deadline for a deal by March 1, US President Donald Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Thursday.

“The market is just waiting for a breakthrough. So long as China-US trade concerns are lingering in the market, investors are in ambiguity about where they should go,” said Vandana Bharti, assistant vice-president of commodity research at SMC Comtrade.

Investors have, since last year, sought safety from the trade dispute in the dollar, which made greenback-denominated gold costlier for buyers holding other currencies.

Also offering limited support to bullion was uncertainty surrounding Brexit, with increasing expectations Britain would leave the European Union next month without a deal, analysts said.

On the technical front, “Gold has been range-bound between US$1,300 and US$1,325 per ounce, and if it breaks that level, gold will go up to US$1,350,” SP Angel’s Raevskiy said.

In other precious metals, palladium was down 0.1% at US$1,414 per ounce, but was still on track for a second consecutive weekly gain, up 0.9% so far.

Platinum fell 0.2% to US$784, set for a second straight weekly fall.

Silver rose 0.2% to US$15.66 but was on track for its second weekly decline, down 1% so far.