August 9, 2019 / 4:21 AM / 4 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold eyes best week in over 3 years on trade, global growth concerns

* Gold up 4.4% so far this week

* Dollar heading for first weekly decline in four

* SPDR Gold holdings dipped 0.7% on Thursday (Updates prices)

By Brijesh Patel

Aug 9 (Reuters) - Gold firmed above the key $1,500 pivot on Friday, en route to its best week since April 2016, as an escalation in the Sino-U.S. trade dispute and fears of a global economic slowdown triggered fresh interest for safe-haven assets.

Spot gold was up 0.2% at $1,503.17 per ounce as of 0712 GMT. Earlier this week, gold prices surpassed $1,500 level for the first since April 2013.

The metal has risen 4.4% so far this week, on track for its best week in more than three years.

U.S. gold futures rose 0.6% to $1,519 an ounce.

“The ongoing issues on the trade front have been battering markets for the course of this week,” ANZ analyst Daniel Hynes said.

“We continue to see that markets (are) pricing in further rate cuts on the back of rising trade tensions, certainly supporting investment demand (for gold).”

Gold has risen more than 17% so far this year, and sprinted more than $100 over the past week, propelled by trade tensions and an increasingly dovish monetary policy shift by central banks amid fears of slowing growth.

In a latest development in the protracted dispute between the world’s biggest economics, a report said that Washington is delaying a decision about licenses for U.S. firms to restart trade with Huawei Technologies..

Meanwhile, central banks of New Zealand, Thailand and India stunned financial markets with a series of surprising interest rate cuts and pointing to policymakers’ dwindling ammunition to fight a downturn.

On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump again expressed dissatisfaction with the strength of the U.S. dollar, saying the Federal Reserve’s interest rates were harming American manufacturers.

Lower interest rates decrease the opportunity cost of holding the non-yielding bullion and weigh on the dollar, making gold cheaper for investors holding other currencies

The dollar index was heading for its first weekly decline in four.

However, recent economic readings out of the U.S. and China shock-off some recession fears and lifted investors sentiment towards riskier assets.

“Gold seems immune to risk appetite and any positive developments in the U.S.-China trade war,” Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at OANDA, said in a note.

“With so much negative yielding debt out there, gold should not see any major selloff unless we see a major breakthrough with trade talks.”

Meanwhile, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.7% to 839.85 tonnes on Thursday from Wednesday.

Elsewhere, silver rose 0.6% to $17 per ounce and eyed a weekly gain of nearly 5%.

Platinum gained 0.4% to $863.52 and is on track for its best week in four.

Palladium climbed 0.3% to $1,425.38 an ounce. (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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