March 8, 2018 / 3:48 AM / 9 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold firm as investors await clarity on Trump's tariff plan

    * Spot gold may fall to $1,318/oz - technicals
    * ECB policy decision due on Thursday; U.S. jobs data on
    * Platinum off 2-mth lows hit on Wednesday

 (updates prices)
    By Sethuraman N R
    March 8 (Reuters) - Gold prices held steady on Thursday as
investors awaited more details on U.S. President Donald Trump's
proposed steel and aluminium tariffs, the outcome of the
European Central Bank's policy meeting, and U.S. jobs data. 
    Spot gold        rose 0.2 percent to $1,328.81 per ounce by
0804 GMT. It hit a one-week high on Wednesday at $1,340.42,
before closing lower at $1,325.49 an ounce. 
    U.S. gold futures         were up 0.1 percent at $1,329.
    "We see gold as a good hedge against rising equity market
volatility and heightened political risks around trade tariffs,
the NAFTA deal and North Korea," ANZ analysts said in a note.
    Asian shares found some relief on Thursday as fears about a
global trade war amid Trump's push to introduce protectionist
tariffs were tempered by signs that the move could include
carve-outs for key partners.
   The White House said late Wednesday that Canada, Mexico and
possibly other countries may be exempted at least for a while
from the proposed steel and aluminium tariffs.             
    Trump is expected to sign a presidential proclamation
establishing the tariffs during a ceremony scheduled for 2030
GMT on Thursday, a source familiar with the situation said.
    "Gold is going to be choppy here and remain in rangebound 
trading ... It is finding some support in the downside around
$1,300 levels due to safe haven demand," said Peter Fung, head
of dealing at Wing Fung Precious Metals in Hong Kong. 
    Investors are also awaiting U.S. non-farm payroll data due
on Friday for more clarity on the pace of U.S rate hikes.
    Businesses are reporting persistent labour market tightness
across the United States, with accelerating wage gains in many
regions, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday in a report that
bolstered the case for interest rate increases.             
    "In the medium-term, gold will come under some pressure from
interest rate hikes and will recover as it has done in the
past," Fung said. 
    The European Central Bank is all but certain to keep policy
unchanged on Thursday but may tweak its communication stance to
offer at least a few clues about its progress towards ending its
unprecedented bond purchases later this year.             
    Meanwhile, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust      , the world's
largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.03 percent to
833.73 tonnes on Wednesday from Tuesday.          
    Spot silver        rose 0.4 percent to $16.55 an ounce.
Platinum        was down 0.1 percent at $951.80, after hitting
its lowest since Jan. 4 at $945.70 in the previous session.
    Palladium        edged up 0.4 percent to $972, after
dropping to its lowest since Feb. 9 at $961.55 on Wednesday.

 (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom
Hogue and Subhranshu Sahu)
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