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PRECIOUS-Gold little changed as U.S. tariff deadline approaches
Published at 12/12/2019 at 08:29

(Updates prices)

* Markets eye UK election and ECB policy meeting

* U.S. dollar falls to lowest since early August

* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns:

By K. Sathya Narayanan

Dec 12 (Reuters) - Gold prices were little changed on Thursday as investors awaited threatened new tariffs on Chinese goods this weekend while supply fears kept palladium on its record run.

Spot gold slipped 0.1% to $1,473.23 an ounce at 0808 GMT. U.S. gold futures were up 0.2% at $1,477.50.

"The key issue for many markets in the near-term is the trade negotiations between China and the U.S. Both Beijing and Washington have indicated the worst-case scenario is the tariffs would be delayed," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

"If we saw tariffs introduced on Sunday, that would be a real positive for gold."

Gold is often considered a safe-haven investment during times of political and financial uncertainty.

U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to meet top advisers on Thursday about the tariffs and their Dec. 15 introduction on nearly $160 billion of Chinese consumer goods, three sources familiar with the plans said.

In the previous session, bullion rose as much as 1% to its highest since Dec. 5 after the U.S. central bank kept benchmark interest rates unchanged and signalled that borrowing costs will not change any time soon.

Higher U.S. interest rates weigh on non-yielding bullion by increasing its opportunity cost while also supporting the dollar, in which gold is priced.

The U.S. dollar index fell to its lowest since early August after the Fed dashed hopes of further interest rate increases.

"With the Fed possibly expanding the balance sheet again in 2020 ... gold should be a regular feature in one's asset allocation during periods of market uncertainty, especially when interest rates are low," AxiTrader market strategist Stephen Innes said in a note.

Investors were also focused on Thursday's UK election, which could pave the way for Britain's departure from the European Union, and Christine Lagarde's first meeting of the European Central Bank later in the day.

Elsewhere, palladium was up 0.3% at $1,915.84 an ounce. Plagued by a supply deficit, the autocatalyst metal registered a record high of $1,921 earlier in the session.

The metal surpassed $1,900 for the first time on Tuesday as mines across South Africa shut down after flash flooding triggered the most severe power blackouts in more than a decade, threatening a key export sector.

Platinum slipped 0.1% to $938.36 while silver was steady at $16.85.

(Reporting by K. Sathya Narayanan in Bengaluru Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and David Goodman)

((Sathya.Narayanan@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 651 848 5832, outside U.S. +91 80 6749 3226/1298; Reuters Messaging: sathya.narayanan.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))