May 14, 2019 / 3:44 AM / 2 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold steadies near 1-month peak as trade woes lift safe-haven demand

* SPDR Gold holdings sees best one-day gain in nearly 2 months

* Spot gold notches up best one-day pct gain since Feb on Monday (Updates prices, adds comment)

By Sethuraman N R

May 14 (Reuters) - Gold prices held near one-month highs on Tuesday as an escalation in the Sino-U.S. trade dispute sent investors looking for safe-haven assets.

Spot gold was trading steady at $1,298, as of 0737 GMT, after hitting $1,303.26, its highest since April 11.

U.S. gold futures were down 0.2% at $1,299.40.

Asian shares extended losses on Tuesday, following sharp overnight declines in Wall Street, after Beijing on Monday announced retaliatory tariff-hike to counter Washington.

“People are looking to find a safe harbour in the storm while they wait for the dust to settle,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, Asia Pacific at OANDA.

“Prices could further rise to $1,310-$1,312 if stock markets end lower. But, any sudden breakthroughs in the trade stand-off possibly could see investors stampeding for the exit as fast as they arrived.”

On Monday, the metal rose 1.1% to mark its biggest one-day percentage rise since February 19. Prices broke through multiple technical resistances, which had acted as a barrier for bullion despite the slump in global markets over the past week.

The biggest trigger for gold came on Monday after China announced that it would impose higher tariffs on a range of U.S. goods, which followed Washington’s decision last week to hike its own levies on $200 billion in Chinese imports.

There was some profit-taking in Asia as prices rose above $1,300, MKS PAMP Group said in a note.

“While there remains a high level of uncertainty over the U.S.–China trade negations, bullion should remain supported and requires a consolidated move above $1,305 to entice further length back into the market.”

In addition to more tariffs, traders are concerned that China, the largest foreign U.S. creditor, may dump treasuries to counter the Trump administration’s hardening trade stance.

Besides trade worries, gold investors were also keeping a tab on escalating tensions between the United States and Iran after Saudi Arabia said on Monday that two of its oil tankers were among those attacked off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

“The Middle East escalation news brings us a step closer to a significant U.S. military reprisal. Fears that China will weaponise U.S. Treasuries in trade war retaliation is scaring the daylights out of markets even if it is unlikely,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading and market strategy at SPI Asset Management.

Rise in investor interest in bullion was also evident after holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose 0.44% on Monday, its biggest one-day rise in nearly two months.

Among other precious metals, silver edged 0.2% higher to $14.79 per ounce, while platinum rose 0.4% to $856.20.

Palladium climbed 0.5% to $1,329.87. (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Uttaresh.V and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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