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Gold choppy as investors weigh rate hikes against recession risks

(Reuters) - Gold prices see-sawed on Wednesday, caught between headwinds from aggressive interest rate hikes and support from safe-haven bids spurred by growing recession risks.

FILE PHOTO: Gold bullion is displayed at GoldSilver Central's office in Singapore June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su

Spot gold fell 0.2% to $1,816.39 per ounce by 1:56 p.m. ET (1756 GMT). Prices bounced as much as 0.7% on data showing a contraction in the U.S. economy in the first quarter, before quickly giving up those gains and moving back into the tight range it has been in for the past few sessions.

U.S. gold futures also settled down 0.2% to $1,817.5.

Gold, considered a hedge against inflation, usually benefits during economic uncertainties, but rising interest rates increase the opportunity cost of holding the asset since it yields no interest.

“The slightly weaker than expected GDP numbers continue to propagate the concerns of potentially moving towards a recessionary situation. As a result, we could see a move towards safe-haven assets,” said David Meger, director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures.

“However, the gold market continues to be in a push-pull situation as the Fed is strongly committed to fighting inflation.”

Investors also took stock of comments from Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell who said that while there’s a risk that rate increases could slow the economy too much, the bigger risk was persistent inflation.

Spot silver fell 0.4% to $20.75 per ounce, platinum rose 0.4% to $914.13, while palladium jumped 4.6% to $1,960.80.

Recently G7 nations announced a plan to ban Russian gold imports. “It will be important to see if discussions (of ban) spill over to other precious metals, particularly palladium,” UBS analyst Joni Teves wrote in a note.

“Russia accounts for over 40% of global palladium mine supply, while countries like the U.S. and Japan have auto industries that need palladium as an input in autocatalysts for gasoline vehicles.”

Reporting by Ashitha Shivaprasad and Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Shailesh Kuber

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