August 30, 2019 / 9:58 AM / 3 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold eases, but still heading for fourth monthly gain

* Silver on track for best month since June 2016

* Platinum set to post biggest monthly gain since Jan 2018

* Gold up nearly 8% so far this month (Updates prices)

By Brijesh Patel

Aug 30 (Reuters) - Gold eased on Friday as equity markets and the dollar firmed, but fears of a global economic slowdown and uncertainty about the U.S.-China trade war kept the safe-haven metal on track for its fourth straight monthly rise.

Spot gold was down 0.1% at $1,526 per ounce by 1342 GMT. However, the metal has gained nearly 8% so far this month.

U.S. gold futures were steady at $1,536.80 an ounce.

“The trade war rhetoric has been toned down somewhat, which has lifted stocks and bond yields, and attracted some profit taking in gold,” Saxo Bank commodity strategist Ole Hansen said, adding a stronger dollar was also pressuring gold.

“However, even though we may see an improvement on the trade front, which is doubtful, economic activity is still slowing down; that cannot turn around overnight. So, the underlying support from lower bond yields is still there.”

Weighing on gold’s appeal, the dollar index hit a one-month high en route to its best week in two months.

Global stock markets rose after the United States and China showed a willingness to resolve their trade dispute by returning to the negotiating table.

China’s commerce ministry also said a September round of meetings was being discussed by the two sides, but added it was important for Washington to cancel a tariff increase.

“Gold will have a very high beta to any reduction in trade tensions given that they have driven so much of its rally,” OANDA analyst Jeffrey Halley wrote in a note.

Gold prices have risen more than $100 so far this month, mainly driven by the trade war between the world’s biggest economics and heightened fears over a global downturn.

The inversion of the U.S. yield curve, where short-dated yields are running above long-dated ones, has also unsettled investors as it often precedes a recession.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central bank are widely expected to cut rates next month to stimulate the economy.

Federal funds futures implied traders saw a 96% chance of a 25 basis-point rate cut by the U.S. central bank next month.

Lower interest rates decrease the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

Elsewhere, silver rose 0.4% to $18.31 per ounce and eyed its biggest monthly percentage rise since June 2016, gaining 13% so far in August.

Platinum gained 1.4% to $928.75 an ounce, holding near a more than one-year high and heading for its best month since January 2018.

Palladium jumped 4.1% to $1,535.50 per ounce, its highest in a month.

Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru Editing by Edmund Blair, Kirsten Donovan

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