September 4, 2019 / 3:37 PM / 14 days ago

CORRECTED-PRECIOUS-Gold scales new six-year peak as U.S. yields slip (Sept. 4)

(Corrects third paragraph in Sept 4 story to say U.S. gold futures settled up, not down, 0.3% at $1,560.40)

* Silver scales three-year peak

* SPDR Gold Trust holdings at highest level since November 2016

By Asha Sistla

Sept 4 (Reuters) - Gold on Wednesday jumped to a fresh six-year high as focus returned to economic woes with 10-year U.S. Treasury yields slumping to a three-year low.

Spot gold was up 0.6% at $1,556.40 per ounce at 1:52 p.m. EDT (1752 GMT), touching a new high since April 2013.

U.S. gold futures settled up 0.3% at $1,560.40.

“Gold can move a bit higher, a big driving macro force is the decline in global yields, which seems to be spreading,” said Edward Meir, analyst at INTL FCStone.

“When you have gold, at least you can get your money back if prices are unchanged. If you buy sovereign bonds, you won’t get your money back.”

U.S. Treasury yields fell as the benchmark 10-year yield hit its lowest level since July 2016, after U.S. manufacturing data showed the first contraction since 2016 on worries about a weakening global economy and U.S.-China trade tensions.

U.S. President Donald Trump threatened on Tuesday that he would be “tougher” on Beijing in a second term as president if talks dragged on.

However, global stock markets gained after a parliamentary vote raised chances of another delay to Brexit while a political gridlock in Italy seemed to have eased.

Investors also kept a close watch on developments in Hong Kong, after the region’s leader, Carrie Lam, withdrew a controversial extradition bill that had triggered months of violent protests in the Asian financial hub. However, some lawmakers said it still remains uncertain if this action would help end the protests.

Meanwhile, traders fully priced in a 25 basis-point interest rate cut at the U.S. Federal Reserve’s meeting later this month, according to CME’s FedWatch tool.

Lower interest rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion and weigh on the dollar. The dollar fell against a basket of currencies.

Indicative of sentiment, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose to 890.04 tonnes on Tuesday, their highest level since November 2016.

Spot silver rose 1.4% to $19.50 per ounce, after hitting $19.57 earlier, its highest level since September 2016.

“It (silver) has climbed further to a three-year high of $19.6 per troy ounce this morning, bringing the psychologically important $20 mark into reach. Silver is continuing to outperform gold – the gold/silver ratio has dropped below 80 for the first time in over a year,” Commerzbank analysts wrote in a note.

Elsewhere, spot platinum rose 2.5% to $982.00 per ounce after jumping 3% to $986 earlier in the session, its highest price since February 2018. Palladium was up 0.9% at $1,556.25. (Reporting by Asha Sistla in Bengaluru Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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