July 8, 2019 / 4:25 AM / 8 days ago

PRECIOUS-Gold rises as focus returns to growth concerns, Fed rate cut

* Fed’s Powell could provide cues on near-term policy this week

* Spot gold may retest resistance at $1,439/oz - technicals

* SPDR Gold holdings fell 0.2% on Friday (Updates prices)

By Brijesh Patel

July 8 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose on Monday, shaking off early losses to consolidate above the $1,400 pivot, as focus shifted to global growth concerns and interest rate cuts by major central banks.

Spot gold was up 0.5% at $1,406.79 per ounce, as of 0721 GMT. U.S. gold futures climbed 0.6% to $1,408.90 an ounce.

Also helping gold, the dollar eased from multi-week highs and global stock markets were in red, helping the metal reverse course following a more than 1% fall on Friday after strong U.S. jobs data lowered the likelihood of an aggressive rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

“Despite the strong (U.S. jobs) numbers, the market is expecting a rate cut, just not as aggressive it would have been. We are still in a rate easing cycle right now,” said Howie Lee, an economist at OCBC Bank.

“Additionally, $1,400 is a pretty strong support level for gold. Also, growth still remains weak globally and we have geo-political tension between the U.S. and Iran. Overall factors are still supportive for higher gold prices,” he added.

U.S. non-farm payrolls rebounded in June to 224,000, the most in five months, data showed on Friday, beating economists’ consensus estimate of 160,000.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is expected to provide further cues on the near-term outlook for monetary policy this week at his semi-annual testimony to the U.S. Congress on the economy.

However, persistent moderate wage gains and mounting evidence the economy was losing momentum could still encourage Fed to cut interest rates this month.

A rate cut by the Fed could also prompt China’s central bank to cut its benchmark policy rate for the first time in four years to support the slowing economy, analysts say.

Lower interest rates would support gold because they reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

Also on investors’ radar is U.S.-Iran tensions, with Tehran saying on Sunday it will shortly boost its uranium enrichment above a cap set by a landmark 2015 nuclear deal, prompting a warning ‘to be careful’ from U.S. President Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.18% to 796.97 tonnes on Friday from 798.44 tonnes on Wednesday.

On the technical front, spot gold may retest a resistance at $1,439 per ounce and as long as the metal stays above the support at $1,387, it may resume its uptrend towards $1,497, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Among other precious metals, silver gained 0.6% to $15.06 per ounce, while palladium dipped 0.3% to $1,562.41.

Platinum rose 0.7% to $809.26, edging away from a more than one-week low touched in the previous session. (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V and Rashmi Aich)

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