July 5, 2018 / 4:57 AM / 12 days ago

PRECIOUS-Gold holds steady amid easing dollar ahead of Fed minutes

    * Fed June minutes due at 1800 GMT
    * Spot gold may retrace to support at $1,248/oz - technicals
    * Dollar falls to one-week low
    * Asian equities extend losses before U.S. tariff deadline

 (Adds comment and updates prices)
    By Karen Rodrigues
    BENGALURU, July 5 (Reuters) - Gold prices traded in a narrow
range on Thursday, after hitting a one-week high in the previous
session, amid an easing dollar and as markets awaited the U.S.
Federal Reserve's June policy meeting minutes for outlook on
monetary policy.
    Spot gold        held steady at $1,254.85 an ounce as of
0715 GMT. The metal touched a one-week high at $1,261.10 in the
prior session and gained over $20 from Tuesday's low of
$1,237.32 an ounce, its weakest since Dec. 12.
    U.S. gold futures         for August delivery were 0.2
percent higher at $1,255.70 an ounce.
    The dollar index        , which measures the greenback
against a basket of six major currencies, was down 0.4 percent
at 94.325. It fell to an over one-week low earlier in the
session.        
    "Traders have their focus on the FOMC (Federal Open Market
Committee) minutes and the general stance is that the minutes
are going to be hawkish," said ThinkMarkets chief market analyst
Naeem Aslam.
    "Moreover, we have the U.S. NFP (non-farm payrolls) data due
tomorrow, one would not like to have any bullish bets on gold
when the labour market trend is strong." 
    The minutes of Fed's June meeting is scheduled to be
published at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT). At the meeting central bank
had projected two more rate hikes in 2018 for a total of four.
                        
    Investors are also awaiting U.S. non-farm payrolls and
unemployment data on Friday. 
    Last month, U.S. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the Fed
should continue with a gradual pace of interest rate rises amid
a strong economy to balance its employment and inflation goals.
                        
    Gold is highly sensitive to rising interest rates, as these
increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion,
while boosting the dollar in which the metal is priced.
    "Gold, however, remains in a bit of a conundrum as political
instability and escalating trade war triggers a buy signal, yet
the steady U.S. dollar strength continues to nip those ideas in
the bud," said Stephen Innes, APAC trading head at OANDA.
    Asian stocks fell for the fourth day and major currencies
traded in tight ranges on Thursday, with financial markets
jittery before a U.S. deadline to impose tariffs on Chinese
imports just a day away.             
    The United States is set to impose tariffs on $34 billion in
Chinese goods on July 6.                         
    Spot gold may retrace to a support at $1,248 per ounce, as
it has failed to break a resistance at $1,258, Reuters
technicals analyst Wang Tao said.         
    Among other precious metals, silver        was nearly
unchanged at $16.05 an ounce.
    Palladium        rose 0.3 percent at $948.70 an ounce, while
platinum        was trading 0.2 percent higher at $841.80 an
ounce. 

 (Reporting by Karen Rodrigues in Bengaluru; Editing by Vyas
Mohan and Sunil Nair)
  
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