March 5, 2019 / 12:57 PM / in 2 months

PRECIOUS-Gold sags near five-week low as sturdy dollar, stocks dent appeal

(Updates prices)

* SPDR Gold holdings fall to mid-Dec levels

* U.S. dollar near two-week high

* Global equities near five-month peak

* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl

By Arijit Bose

March 5 (Reuters) - Gold prices held close to a more than five-week low on Tuesday as the dollar firmed and global equity markets held near a five-month crest, making bullion less appealing for investors.

Spot gold was down 0.1 percent at $1,285.12 an ounce at 1238 GMT, close to its lowest since Jan. 25 at $1,282.50, hit in the previous session.

U.S. gold futures fell 0.1 percent to $1,286.10.

The dollar stood within striking distance of a two-week high against peers on uplifting signs from the U.S. economy and higher Treasury yields.

“We have seen some signs of dollar strength sapping the appetite (for gold),” said Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen.

“We have had such a strong rally (in gold) since last August and now we are having the first major setback. That has attracted some profit-taking and long liquidations both in futures and exchange-traded funds.”

Gold prices have fallen nearly 5 percent since hitting a 10-month high of $1,346.73 on Feb. 20.

The primary driver to gold’s downward momentum of late are expectations that the U.S. and China will soon agree a trade deal, said ActivTrades chief analyst Carlo Alberto De Casa.

“This is boosting market sentiment and increasing investors’ willingness to take on risk,” he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday said that he believed the United States and China are “on the cusp” of pulling the curtains on their trade dispute.

Global equities remained near a five-month high on Tuesday, reducing demand for non-yielding bullion.

“From a technical point of view, bullion is ... not too far from the $1,280 threshold, which is the first major support area for bullion in this scenario,” De Casa added.

Serving as an indicator of investor sentiment in bullion, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rolled backed to mid-December levels with a 0.76 percent fall on Monday.

Investors will be looking ahead to the European Central Bank’s monetary policy meeting on Thursday and U.S. non-farm payrolls data on Friday.

Among the other precious metals, palladium slipped 0.9 percent to $1,519.45 an ounce, spot silver gained 0.2 percent to $15.09 and platinum traded 0.5 percent higher at $838.80. (Reporting by Arijit Bose in Bengaluru Editing by David Goodman)

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