January 7, 2019 / 11:37 AM / 2 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold rises, palladium hits record high as Fed shift hopes hurt dollar

(Adds new details and comments, updates prices)

* Palladium touches all-time high at $1,313.24/oz

* SPDR Gold holdings highest since end-July

* Platinum touches over 1-month high at $831.10/oz

By Arijit Bose

BENGALURU, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Gold rose and palladium hit a record high on Monday as the dollar was dented by expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve would halt its rate-hiking cycle for the year, lifting demand for the metals from holders of other currencies.

“The precious metals complex is fairly well supported given the loose monetary turn coming out of the Fed,” ING analyst Warren Patterson said.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on Friday said the central bank would be more sensitive to downside risks in the market, adding that it was “prepared to shift the stance of policy” if needed.

Gold tends to gain when interest rate hike expectations ease because lower rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

Spot gold was up about 0.6 percent at $1,292.41 per ounce as of 1254 GMT. U.S. gold futures gained 0.6 percent to $1,293.90 per ounce.

The dollar weakened on growing bets the Fed would pause its rate hike cycle in the coming months after Friday’s comments from Chairman Jerome Powell.

“We are seeing buyers returning to the (gold) market on dips,” said Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen, adding that the dollar weakness supported prices.

Gold fell about 0.7 percent in the previous session, its biggest one-day decline in about two months on the back of robust U.S. jobs data, but has recovered since.

“The main trend remains bullish (for gold). From a technical point of view, traders are now watching the two key levels of $1,277 and $1,300, which are new support and resistance levels respectively,” ActivTrades chief analyst Carlo Alberto De Casa said in a note.

Meanwhile, global equities which were initially perturbed by investors’ concerns of an economic slowdown were boosted by Powell’s dovish stance and staged a relief rally.

But Saxo Bank’s Hansen said demand for gold as a safe haven would remain because “a dovish Fed is more of a potential worry that the U.S. economy is not as strong as the market expects.”

Indicating increased interest in bullion, holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, also rose to 798.25 tonnes on Friday, their highest since July 31, 2018.

Meanwhile, palladium was trading at a premium to gold, having touched a record high of $1,313.24 earlier in the session.

The metal, used mainly in emissions-reducing auto catalysts for vehicles, gained 0.5 percent to $1,306.55.

“The physical market (for palladium) is so tight we are seeing ETF holdings being withdrawn in order to meet that physical demand from the industrial sector,” Patterson added.

Among other precious metals, silver was up 0.4 percent at $15.75 per ounce, while platinum rose 0.8 percent to $829, having touched a more than one-month high of $831.10 earlier in the session. (Reporting by Arijit Bose and Swati Verma in Bengaluru Editing by Edmund Blair and Susan Fenton)

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