December 20, 2019 / 5:17 AM / a month ago

PRECIOUS-Gold edges down as trade progress supports riskier assets

 (Adds comment, updates prices)
    * Mnuchin: U.S.-China to sign trade pact in January
    * Palladium set to gain for a fifth straight week
    * GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl

    By Asha Sistla
    Dec 20 (Reuters) - Gold edged lower in range-bound trade on
Friday, pressured by increased risk appetite on hopes of an
interim Sino-U.S. deal being signed soon, while investors
awaited U.S. GDP data for fresh cues on the state of economy.
    U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday the
United States and China would sign their so-called Phase one
trade pact at the beginning of January, adding that it would not
be subject to any renegotiation.             
    Spot gold        fell 0.1% to $1,477.95 per ounce by 0808
GMT. U.S. gold futures        were down 0.2% to $1,481.90 per
ounce.   
    "The real driver for gold markets has been trade-war risk
and with its de-escalation in phase one on the back of Mnuchin's
comments is not bullish for gold," said Stephen Innes, a market
strategist at AxiTrader.
    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.
                         
    The easing of the trade dispute boosted share markets, with
Asian stocks holding close to 18-month peaks.             
    The dollar was steady, even as it was set to gain for the
first week in four, supported by better-than-expected U.S.
economic data.        
    The initial U.S. jobless claims report was strong with
applications for unemployment benefits slipping from a more than
two-year high.             
    Investors now await U.S. gross domestic product data due out
later on Friday.
    "Gold is consolidating at the top of its recent range with
the dollar a bit stronger and a positive risk environment," said
Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, Asia Pacific at OANDA.
    "Doesn't look like anyone wants to take the market higher,
the market seems really well-balanced at these levels for now."
    Meanwhile, in Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised
to "get the Brexit vote wrapped up for Christmas", following his
landslide election victory.                          
    "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        rose 0.4% to $1,943.21 per ounce
and was on track for a fifth straight week of gains.
    Prices of the autocatalyst metal had hit an all-time peak of
$1,998.43 on Tuesday on a sustained supply crunch.  
    Silver        was flat at $17.06 per ounce, while platinum
       fell 0.2% to $931.91.

 (Reporting by Asha Sistla in Bengaluru
Editing by Rashmi Aich, Robert Birsel)
  
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