August 8, 2018 / 10:31 AM / 4 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold steady, dollar headwinds on the radar

* U.S. Treasuries a refuge from trade tensions

* SPDR Gold holdings hit lowest in a year (Updates prices)

By Pratima Desai

LONDON, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Gold prices steadied on Wednesday, but expectations of a higher dollar due to rising U.S. interest rates and strong demand for U.S. Treasury bonds seen as a refuge from trade tensions are expected to weigh.

Spot gold was unchanged at $1,210.60 an ounce at 1125 GMT compared with $1,204 hit last week, its lowest since March 2017. Prices are down more than 10 percent since April. U.S. gold futures were flat at $1,218.30.

A higher U.S. currency makes dollar-denominated gold more expensive for holders of other currencies, which potentially would subdue demand. This relationship is used by funds to generate buy and sell signals from numerical models.

“The Fed is going to raise rates further this year, that will push up the dollar, a negative for gold,” said Quantitative Commodity Research analyst Peter Fertig.

“An escalation in the trade dispute will trigger further moves into U.S. Treasuries regarded as the ultimate safe haven. Investors who buy Treasuries need dollars.”

The latest salvo on the trade front came from the United States, which said on Tuesday it would begin collecting tariffs on another $16 billion in Chinese goods on Aug. 23.

The final tariff list targeting 279 import product lines brings to about $50 billion in goods that now face a 25 percent tariff that U.S. President Donald Trump has imposed on Chinese imports in an escalating trade war.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to increase interest rates twice more this year and three times next year. The next policy meeting is in September.

Higher U.S. interest rates raise the opportunity cost of holding gold, which earns nothing and costs money to store and insure.

On the technical front, first support comes in at $1,200, followed by $1,195, near the low seen in March 2017. Resistance is at the 21-day moving average currently sitting at $1,225.

Lack of investor interest can be seen in the holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, which at 25,319,951.65 ounces on Tuesday are at their lowest since August 2017.

Silver rose 0.1 percent to $15.35 an ounce, platinum fell 0.5 percent to $822.00 and palladium ceded 0.1 percent to $905.50. (Reporting by Pratima Desai; Additional reporting by Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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