March 14, 2018 / 4:23 AM / a year ago

PRECIOUS-Gold flat amid rising U.S. protectionism fears

    * Spot gold may rise to $1,334/oz - technicals
    * Trump fires Tillerson, sparking fears of U.S.
    * Dollar eases, stocks dip on Tillerson news

 (Updates with latest prices)
    By Nithin ThomasPrasad
    March 14 (Reuters) - Gold prices were flat on Wednesday,
hovering near a one-week high on a weaker dollar following U.S.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's sudden dismissal, which
invigorated concerns of protectionist policies hampering global
risk appetite.
    Spot gold        was unchanged at $1,325.93 per ounce at
0735 GMT. It touched $1,330.02 an ounce during the session, its
highest since March 7.
    U.S. gold futures         for April delivery fell 0.1
percent to $1,326.30 per ounce.
    On Tuesday, President Donald Trump fired Tillerson after a
series of public rifts over policy on North Korea, Russia and
Iran, replacing his chief diplomat with loyalist CIA Director
Mike Pompeo.             
    Risk aversion is back on the table following the unexpected
news of Tillerson's dismissal and the appointment of Pompeo,
said OCBC analyst Barnabas Gan.
    "Pompeo is a supporter of Trump's trade policy and could
help advance his agenda of imposing it on U.S. trading partners
... all this uncertainty and risk aversion leaves gold as a safe
haven option," Gan added. 
    The U.S. dollar wallowed against the yen and other major
currencies after the dismissal of Tillerson. This killed off an
earlier bounce in the currency.       
    A weaker dollar makes bullion, which is used as an
alternative investment during times of political and financial
uncertainty, cheaper for holders of other currencies.   
    "With the U.S. protectionist rhetoric likely to ring equity
market alarm bells, gold should continue to be an ideal hedge in
this highly unpredictable environment," said Stephen Innes, APAC
trading head at OANDA.
    Asian shares eased on Wednesday amid fears of rising U.S.
    Meanwhile, data on Tuesday showed U.S. consumer prices
cooled in February amid a decline in gasoline prices and a
moderation in the cost of rental accommodation, the latest
indication that an anticipated pickup in inflation probably will
be only gradual.               
    Inflation is a key economic factor the U.S. central bank
considers when deciding monetary policy. A strong U.S. inflation
reading could raise expectations for future interest rate
increases, which would put pressure on non-yielding bullion.
    "The 0.2 percent increase in consumer price index suggests
it won't be enough to spur more rate hikes by the Fed than
already expected," ANZ analysts said in a note.
    Spot gold may rise to $1,334 per ounce, as it has cleared a
resistance at $1,327, according to Reuters Technical analyst
Wang Tao.         
    In other precious metals, silver        rose 0.42 percent to
$16.61 per ounce.
    Platinum        gained 0.7 percent to $968.40 per ounce and
Palladium        edged 0.2 percent higher to $992.95 per ounce.

 (Reporting by Nithin Prasad in Bengaluru
Editing by Joseph Radford and Gopakumar Warrier)
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