February 28, 2019 / 4:04 AM / 2 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold near 2-week lows as dollar rebounds over trade caution

(Adds details, updates prices)

* Gold rose for the fifth straight month, up 0.1 percent

* Platinum off over three-month peak hit in previous session

* Trump and Kim failed to reach agreement at Vietnam summit

* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl

By K. Sathya Narayanan

Feb 28 (Reuters) - Gold prices on Thursday held near two-week lows touched in the previous session, as the dollar recouped losses after cautious comments from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer dented investors’ hopes for a closure to the tariff war with China.

As of 0727 GMT, spot gold was 0.2 percent higher at $1,322.16 per ounce, while U.S. gold futures were up 0.1 percent at $1,322.

The safe-haven metal hit the lowest since Feb. 15 at $1,316.43 in the previous session, but marked its fifth straight monthly gain.

Lighthizer told a Congressional hearing it is too early to predict the outcome of ongoing trade talks with Beijing and the United States will need to maintain the threat of tariffs on Chinese goods for years even if the two sides strike a deal.

“There is some uncertainty about the trade deal and some of the safe-haven (demand) has gone to the U.S. dollar. That has taken a bit of a bid from gold,” said John Sharma, economist, National Australian Bank.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, bounced back from three-week lows.

“Overall, gold is expected to go up with some corrections and prices will move around the $1,310-$1,330 levels depending on the dollar,” Sharma said, adding, “main support comes from Federal Reserve’s dovish stance and a lot of central banks are keen on accumulating gold.”

During his testimony to the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, Powell reiterated that the Fed will be patient in hiking interest rates.

“The precious metal’s recent consolidation is supported by the indecision the financial markets have in pricing in what will be the Fed’s next move,” OANDA senior market analyst Edward Moya said in a note.

“Gold may struggle climbing higher until we see further deterioration in U.S. data, that would seal the market expectation for the next move to be a rate cut.”

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed to reach an agreement on denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula at their summit in Vietnam on Thursday, the White House said.

Investors are also monitoring the tensions between India and Pakistan, with the two countries engaged in retaliatory attacks, analysts said.

Spot palladium was flat at $1,529 on Thursday, after retreating from its all-time peak of 1,565.09 per ounce scaled earlier in the week.

The autocatalyst surged about 21 percent so far this year on widening supply tightness in the market.

Spot silver rose 0.3 percent to $15.78 per ounce.

Platinum was up 0.4 percent at $868 per ounce, but was trading below its more than three-month high of $871.94 hit in the previous session. (Reporting by K. Sathya Narayanan, additional reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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