November 28, 2019 / 2:17 AM / 14 days ago

Gold treads water as investors assess U.S.-China trade developments

(Reuters) - Gold traded in a narrow $5 range on Thursday as investors gauged the impact of U.S. backing of Hong Kong protesters on its trade negotiations with China, while palladium scaled a record peak on a sustained supply crunch.

FILE PHOTO: A one kilo gold bar is displayed in a shop in Dubai's gold souk, April 11, 2006. REUTERS/Tamara Abdul Hadi/File Photo

Spot gold was up 0.1% at $1,455.37 per ounce by 1331 GMT. U.S. gold futures rose 0.1% to $1,454.90, with trading volumes subdued by the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.

China warned the United States that it would take “firm countermeasures” in response to U.S. legislation backing anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.

The U.S. legislation “doesn’t seem to have provided much of a support to gold prices. The already slim chances of a ‘phase 1’ agreement don’t seem to have improved,” Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg said.

“There is still strong pressure on gold. Staying above $1,450 and not falling lower is quite important for gold. If the equities market run continues, it is likely that gold prices will come under more pressure.”

In global stock markets, a four-day rally to near-record highs stalled as the U.S. bill backing Hong Kong’s protesters threatened to derail an interim trade deal between Washington and Beijing.

Gold prices have slipped more than 6% from six-year highs hit in September and are on track to post their biggest monthly decline in three years.

Gold eased 0.5% in the last session on a raft of upbeat economic data from the United States. Economic growth picked up slightly in the third quarter, weekly jobless claims fell, while new orders for key U.S.-made capital goods increased.

“Global growth concerns have definitely eased, but not gone,” said John Sharma, an economist at National Australia Bank. He added that gold would remain supported even if an interim deal was passed since the most complex issues, such as intellectual property, had been pushed down the road.

Gold, considered a safe store of value during economic or political uncertainties, has gained more than 13% this year, mainly due to the tariff dispute.

Among other precious metals, palladium gained 0.4% to $1,840.61 per ounce, having hit an all-time high of $1,841.69 earlier in the session.

“Yet again, it’s very much about scarcity of palladium and continued production deficits given the strong demand from the car industry and inadequate supply,” Commerzbank’s Weinberg said.

The price of the metal, used in vehicle exhausts to reduce harmful emissions, has risen more than 45% so far this year.

Platinum fell 0.1% to $891.52 per ounce and silver was steady at $16.94.

Reporting by Swati Verma and Sumita Layek in Bengaluru; Editing by Dale Hudson, Kirsten Donovan

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