December 20, 2019 / 11:05 AM / a month ago

PRECIOUS-Gold stalls as trade progress weighs on safe-haven demand

 (Updates prices)
    * U.S. GDP data due at 1330 GMT
    * World stocks hit record peak, dollar at 1-wk high
    * Palladium on track for fifth straight week of gains
    * GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl 

    By K. Sathya Narayanan
    Dec 20 (Reuters) - Gold prices trod water on Thursday as
equity markets scaled record highs on optimism that the bitter
U.S.-China trade war will be resolved soon, while investors
awaited U.S. growth data for more cues on the economy's health.
    Spot gold        was steady at $1,478.80 per ounce as of
1244 GMT, while U.S. gold futures         were down 0.1% at
$1,482.80 per ounce.
    "There has been a good set of economic data released
recently. The equity market is still going strong, and the
sentiment is more risk-on," said SP Angel analyst Sergey
Raevskiy.
    "So, people are just prepared to go for some more risky
assets, and reduce their gold positions."
    World stocks touched record highs after the United States
and China agreed on an interim deal, while the U.S. dollar
       rose to an over one-week peak.                   
    U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday the
two countries would sign their so-called phase one trade pact at
the beginning of January, and that it would not be subject to
any renegotiation.             
    China's finance ministry unveiled a new list of import
tariff exemptions for a duration of one year starting Dec. 26
for six chemical and oil products from the United States.
                         
    "Any news about the deal is better than no news about it...
people are still waiting for more to come. It is being
considered as the first step for a bigger agreement and it is a
step in the right direction," Raevskiy added.
    Data on Thursday showed the initial U.S. jobless claims
report was strong, with applications for unemployment benefits
slipping from a more than two-year high.             
    Investors are now awaiting U.S. gross domestic product (GDP)
data due at 1330 GMT.
    "Key factors to watch for gold next year will be the second
phase of the U.S.-China trade negotiations, the U.S. election,
global monetary policy, and the investor response to these
developments," Standard Chartered Bank analyst Suki Cooper said
in a note.
    Elsewhere, palladium        gained 0.5% to $1,946.25 per
ounce and was on track for a fifth straight week of gains.
    The autocatalyst metal hit an all-time peak of $1,998.43
earlier this week on a sustained supply crunch, which was
aggravated by recent mine closures in major producer South
Africa.  
    Silver        gained 0.2% to $17.09 per ounce, while
platinum        eased 0.3%, to $930.50. Both metals however were
on track for a weekly gain.

 (Reporting by K. Sathya Narayanan in Bengaluru; Editing by
Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Jan Harvey)
  
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