May 21, 2018 / 4:00 AM / a month ago

PRECIOUS-Gold hits 5-month low as U.S. trade war with China 'on hold'

    * Dollar index climbs to five-month high
    * China, U.S. have great potential for cooperation- Chinese
state
media 
    * Specs cut net long position in gold in week to May 15

 (Adds comment, updates prices)
    By Apeksha Nair
    BENGALURU, May 21 (Reuters) - Gold slid to a near five-month
low on Monday, as the dollar rose and demand for safe-haven
assets eased after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said a
trade war between China and the United States was "on hold".
    Spot gold        was down 0.6 percent at $1,283.30 per ounce
at 0658 GMT, after earlier hitting $1,281.76, its lowest since
Dec. 27.
    U.S. gold futures         for June delivery were 0.7 percent
lower at $1,282.50.
    "Gold price is under pressure as the dollar maintains its
strength," said Naeem Aslam, chief markets analyst at Think
Markets. 
    "'On Hold' is a risk-on term...The absence of trade tariffs
and hostile tone between the two countries has also impacted the
gold price more adversely," Aslam said.
    The dollar rose versus the yen and hit a five month-high
against a basket of currencies, after Mnuchin's comments
downplaying a trade dispute with China, boosting risk sentiment
amid hopes for an easing of trade tensions between the world's
two biggest economies.                     
    Chinese state media on Monday praised a significant dialing
back of trade tension with the U.S., saying China had stood its
ground and the two countries had huge potential for win-win
business cooperation.             
    "You have this combination of technical factors which is at
the moment un-supportive (for gold). As long as the dollar is on
the firm side, gold is under pressure," said Dominic Schnider at
UBS Wealth Management in Hong Kong.
    The price of gold fell below the psychologically important 
$1,300 per ounce level last week for the first time since late
December and has since continued to trade below its 200-day
moving average. 
    A stronger dollar makes dollar-denominated gold more
expensive for holders using other currencies. Furthermore,
rising U.S. interest rates, and the expectation that U.S.
Federal Reserve will raise rates again next month, limits
investor demand for non-yielding bullion. 
   "Investors are looking towards the biggest event of this
week- the FOMC minutes and if the Fed doesn't tame its hawkish
stance, we would expect more weakness in the gold price," Aslam
said.
    Hedge funds and money managers cut their net long position
in COMEX gold contracts by 21,294 contracts to 31,327 in the
week to May 15, data showed on Friday.                 
    In other precious metals, silver        fell 0.8 percent to
$16.30 an ounce.
    Platinum        was 0.4 percent lower at $879 an ounce,
after marking an over five-month low at $874 earlier.
    Palladium        rose 0.5 percent at $968.30 per ounce,
after hitting a two-week low at $960.22 on Friday.

 (Reporting by Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian
Schmollinger and Subhranshu Sahu)
  
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