June 25, 2018 / 5:23 AM / a month ago

PRECIOUS-Gold edges lower as dollar firms; trade tensions limit downside

    * Gold prices above six-month lows hit last week
    * Specs cut net longs in gold to weakest in 2-1/2 years

 (Adds details and updates prices)
    By Karen Rodrigues
    BENGALURU, June 25 (Reuters) - Gold prices edged lower on
Monday, pressured by a strong U.S. dollar amid prospects of
higher interest rates, while global trade tensions kept the
metal buoyed above a six-month low hit last week.
    Spot gold        was down 0.3 percent at $1,264.70 an ounce
as of 0624 GMT. 
    U.S. gold futures         for August delivery were 0.3
percent lower at $1,266.60 per ounce.
    "There are specific factors that will actually push the
dollar higher, given the trade tensions as well as the booming
U.S. economy versus other economies," said OCBC analyst Barnabas
Gan.
    "Gold prices are very much influenced by the dollar movement
rather than anything else. It's less of a safe-haven demand into
gold but rather a reaction to USD strength." 
    U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday threatened to escalate
a trade war with Europe by imposing a 20 percent tariff on all
imports of European Union-assembled cars.             
             
    Trump also plans to bar many Chinese companies from
investing in U.S. technology firms and block additional
technology exports to Beijing, Wall Street Journal reported on
Sunday.             
    Global shares fell on escalating trade tensions, while the
dollar index        against a basket of six major currencies was
0.1 percent higher at 94.585, having hit its highest since July
2017, at 95.529, late last week.                   
    Gold usually gains from political and economic tensions, but
has struggled this time around as the dollar has risen strongly,
making the dollar-priced metal costlier for non-U.S. investors.
    "The overhang of higher U.S. interest rates and dollar
continues to hold relatively firm as dealers sell on rally. We
need the dollar to weaken significantly to get above $1,282,"
said Stephen Innes, APAC trading head at OANDA.
    Last week, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said
the Fed should continue with a gradual pace of interest rate
hikes amid a strong economy to balance its employment and
inflation goals.             
    Higher U.S. interest rates make gold a less attractive
investment since it does not bear interest.
    Gold prices hit a six-month low last week, weighed down by a
firm dollar and as the Fed kept its outlook for higher interest
rates.
    Meanwhile, speculators trimmed their net long position in
COMEX gold to the weakest in 2-1/2 years in the week to June 19,
data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed
on Friday.        
    In other precious metals, silver        fell 0.7 percent to
$16.31 an ounce.
    Platinum        was 0.1 percent higher at $873.70 per ounce.
It touched $851.74, the weakest since February 2016, in the
previous session.
    Palladium        was down 0.6 percent at $951.22 per ounce.
The metal slipped to a seven-week low of $947.15 an ounce on
Friday.

 (Reporting by Karen Rodrigues in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry
Jacob-Phillips and Subhranshu Sahu)
  
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