May 20, 2019 / 1:45 AM / 3 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold steadies as trade tensions, Iran worries in focus

May 20 (Reuters) - Gold steadied on Monday after four days of falls, as a Sino-U.S. trade dispute aggravated by a Huawei ban and U.S. President Donald Trump’s latest threat to Tehran fuelled interest in the safe-haven metal.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Spot gold was up 0.1% at $1,278.06 per ounce at 0137 GMT.

* U.S. gold futures were 0.2% higher at $1,278 an ounce.

* Gold fell to a two-week low of $1,274.51 an ounce on Friday after data showed U.S. consumer sentiment jumped to a 15-year high in early May amid growing confidence over the economy’s outlook.

* U.S. President Donald Trump issued a new threat to Tehran on Sunday, tweeting that a conflict would be the “official end” of Iran, as Saudi Arabia warned it stood ready to respond with “all strength” and said it was up to Iran to avoid war.

* Aggravating uncertainty about Sino-U.S. trade, Alphabet Inc’s Google has suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

* The U.S. must show sincerity if it is to hold meaningful trade talks, China said on Friday, after Trump raised the stakes by adding Chinese tech giant Huawei to a trade blacklist. Meanwhile the Chinese state media adopted a hard-line approach in escalating trade tensions.

* SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said its holdings rose 0.4% to 736.17 tonnes on Friday from 733.23 tonnes on Thursday.

* Hedge funds and money managers raised their net long positions in COMEX gold in the week to May 14, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Friday.

* Share markets in Asia got off to a steady start on Monday while government data showed Japan’s economy grew at an annualised rate of 2.1%, contributing to an improved risk sentiment.

* The Australian dollar was boosted against the greenback on Monday following a surprise election victory by the country’s conservative government, while the yen dipped slightly on a recovery in market sentiment.

* Gold was sold at a discount last week in India for the first time in 2-1/2 months as higher prices deterred jewellers and retail buyers, while currency fluctuations and economic worries triggered caution amongst buyers in other Asian hubs.

Reporting by Arijit Bose in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin

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