January 10, 2019 / 5:03 AM / 5 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold gains as dovish Fed, U.S. political impasse drag dollar

(Updates prices)

* Holdings in SPDR Gold Trust rose on Wednesday

* Dollar slips to near 3-month low

* Investors await further news on Sino-U.S. trade talks

* Palladium off record high hit in prior session

By K. Sathya Narayanan

BENGALURU, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose on Thursday as growing expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will pause its rate tightening cycle this year and an impasse between U.S. President Donald Trump and Democrats on funding for a border wall weighed on the dollar.

Spot gold was up 0.2 percent at $1,295.83 per ounce as of 0730 GMT, hovering near Friday’s peak of $1,298.42 - a level last seen in mid-June.

U.S. gold futures gained 0.4 percent to $1,297.20 per ounce.

Minutes from the Fed’s Dec. 18-19 policy meeting showed that several policymakers said they could be patient about future interest rate hikes.

“Gold is getting a bit of support out of a dovish Fed and institutional instability in the U.S. We have got the markets pricing in the possibility of a Fed rate cut than a hike in the year ahead,” said Kyle Rodda, a market analyst at IG, Australia.

“That resulted in lower (Treasury) yield, especially after the Fed minutes, which gave the U.S. dollar a bit of a kick down. There is a chance of prices breaking the resistance at $1,300 with the present sentiment.”

Falling Treasury yields can translate into less demand for the dollar since the currency is used to buy bonds, a traditional safe-haven.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against major currencies, fell to its lowest level in nearly three months.

Gold is highly sensitive to declining interest rates which decrease the opportunity cost of holding the non-yielding bullion while pressuring the U.S. currency.

Meanwhile, Trump walked out of talks with Democratic congressional leaders on Wednesday over funding for a border wall with Mexico and reopening the government, saying the meeting in the White House was “a total waste of time”.

Gold is expected to retest a resistance at $1,299 per ounce, with a good chance of breaking above that and rising further to $1,311, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Asian equities took a breather after an extended rally, as markets awaited more news on U.S.-China trade talks after both the countries wrapped a three-day meeting.

“With the government shutdown still far from resolved and Chinese trade talks just partly concluded, we are not sure that the turbulence in the equity markets is over just yet,” INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir said in a note, adding “the length in gold should be maintained.”

Holdings in the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust, rose 0.3 percent on Wednesday to their highest since late July.

Among other precious metals, palladium fell about 0.6 percent to $1,319.10 per ounce, after scaling an all-time high of $1,342.43 in the previous session.

Silver was flat at $15.74 per ounce, while platinum inched up 0.1 percent to $825.30. (Additional reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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