December 23, 2019 / 4:03 PM / a month ago

PRECIOUS-Gold firms on sparse trade as economic concerns support

 (Updates prices)
    * New orders for U.S.-made capital goods barely rise
    * Gold hits more than one-week high; platinum rises 3%
    * GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl

    By Karthika Suresh Namboothiri
    Dec 23 (Reuters) - Gold prices gained on Monday on sparse
trade ahead of the holiday season, with lingering concerns about
the health of major global economies supporting demand for
safe-haven bullion.
    Spot gold        was up 0.5% to $1,484.97 per ounce as of
01:33 p.m. ET (1833 GMT). Prices notched $1,485.71 earlier in
the session, the highest since Dec. 12.
    U.S. gold futures         settled 0.5% higher at $1,488.70
per ounce.
    "Investors are looking at political risks in the longer term
... There are potential economic risks still in the majority of
economies. That's not going to go away in a hurry," said  INTL
FCStone analyst Rhona O'Connell.
    The United States and China have still not signed a
so-called Phase 1 trade deal and tensions in the Middle East are
contributing to gold's appeal, she added.  
    U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday the United
States and China would "very shortly" sign the trade agreement.
             
    China said on Monday it would lower tariffs on products
ranging from frozen pork and avocado to some types of
semiconductors next year.             
    While the world's two largest economies have exchanged
banter about the conditions of the trade deal, there is much
room for uncertainty. Any hints of a fall-through in talks could
propel gold higher, analysts say.
    The 17-month trade war has rocked markets and fanned global
recessionary fears. 
    China's economy is expanding at its weakest rate in nearly
30 years and could face more downward pressure next year.
Canada's economy unexpectedly shrank by 0.1% in October, the
first monthly decline since February.                         
    Fresh data from the United States provided little respite,
with new orders for U.S.-made capital goods barely rising in
November and shipments declining, suggesting business investment
will probably remain a drag on economic growth in the fourth
quarter.             
    "Despite the upbeat tenor of the overall marketplace, the
safe-haven metals are showing keen resilience and even a bit of
bullishness as global stock markets rally," Kitco Metals senior
analyst Jim Wyckoff said in a note.
    The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hit record highs on Monday.     
    Palladium        was up 1.2% at $1,877.60 an ounce, but
still far from the previous week's record high of $1,998.43.
    Platinum        climbed 2.9% to $935.02 an ounce, while
silver        rose 1.3% to $17.41.

    
 (Reporting by Karthika Suresh Namboothiri in Bengaluru; Editing
by Dan Grebler and Grant McCool)
  
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