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Gold Tests $1,285 as US-China Trade Spat Lingers, Capped by Fed Rate Cut Odds

May 27, 2019 at 19:45 by Andrew Moran

Gold futures rose to a one-week high on the Memorial Day holiday, testing $1,285. The yellow metal posted tepid gains on Monday as fears over the US-China trade war intensifying on recent developments. However, any potential jump for gold prices was capped on growing odds that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates amid disappointing economic data.

July gold futures edged up $0.80, or 0.06%, to $1,284.40 per ounce at 19:20 GMT on Monday. Gold prices posted a modest 0.5% weekly boost last week, but they are relatively flat on the year.

Silver, the sister commodity to gold, is up on Monday as July silver futures rose $0.025, or 0.17%, to $14.58 an ounce. The white metal also tacked on 0.8% last week, but it is still down more than 6% year-to-date.

Gold’s safe-haven status was tapped into by investors as the US and China waged in a trade war of words. Beijing dismissed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement that Huawei Technologies CEO Ren Zhengfei lied about his company’s ties to the Chinese governments, denouncing the accusation as a complete fabrication.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has said that he is in no rush to complete a new trade agreement with China. He told reporters at a joint news conference in Tokyo that he wished Beijing would have signed the trade deal that was in place before the 15% tariff hike was implemented, which was followed by China’s retaliatory tariff increase to US goods.

I think they probably wish they made the deal that they had on the table before they tried to renegotiate it. They would like to make a deal, we are not ready to make a deal. And we are taking in tens of billions of dollars of tariffs and that number could go up very, very substantially, very easily.

In the end, he is confident that China will agree to a deal because businesses are fleeing the world’s second-largest economy “by the hundreds, by the thousands, and going into areas that are non-tariffed.”

For the last year, gold has not behaved like a safe-haven status normally would during a geopolitical conflict. But gold’s inability to take advantage of the situation is because China is one of the biggest consumers of the precious metal, and if its economy is slumping, then its demand will diminish.

On the data front, traders think that the weak numbers as of late might spur the US central bank to slash interest rates. Although the Fed minutes from this month’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting suggest officials are fine with the current target rate and are in no rush to hike or cut rates, the CME Group FedWatch tool shows that the market is increasingly forecasting a rate cut as early as September.

Last week, durable goods orders in April fell 2.1%, down from the 1.7% rise in March. New home sales plunged 6.9% in April, down from the 8.1% advance in the previous month. Manufacturing activity slipped this month.

In other metal markets, July copper futures surged $0.015, or 0.57%, to $2.71 per pound. July platinum futures added $6.90, or 0.86%, to $809.80 an ounce. July palladium futures edged up $2.60, or 0.2%, to $1,328.30 per ounce.

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