July 16, 2019 / 10:40 AM / 2 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold steadies before U.S. retail sales numbers

(Adds analyst comment, updates prices)

* U.S. retail sales data expected at 1230 GMT

* Gold holding in $1,404-$1,421/oz range - technicals

* Silver hits three-week high of $15.46/oz

By Karthika Suresh Namboothiri

July 16 (Reuters) - Gold prices held steady on Tuesday as investors awaited retail sales data from the United States later in the session for cues on the health of the world’s largest economy.

Spot gold inched up 0.1% to $1,414.92 per ounce by 1015 GMT. U.S. gold futures rose 0.2% to $1,416.60.

“Gold fell over the last three weeks and has been in a consolidation phase,” OANDA senior market analyst Craig Erlam said, adding U.S. retail sales data would offer an important economic pointer.

“After the U.S. jobs report earlier we’ve seen a return to big-news-is-bad-news scenario whereby a strong piece of data, which could discourage the Fed from cutting interest rates, is having big implications on the market,” he said.

The data is due before major central bank decisions. The European Central Bank issues a rate decision on July 25, while the U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to cut rates shortly after that.

“Gold has not broken $1,400 and the fact that it is holding on to these (levels) suggests there is some substance to the move,” Erlam said.

In the ongoing U.S.-Chinese trade row, U.S. President Donald Trump said slowing economic growth in the world’s second largest economy showed U.S. tariffs were having “a major effect” and Washington could add pressure.

Chinese data released on Monday showed growth slowed to 6.2% in the second quarter, its weakest pace in at least 27 years, raising expectations that Beijing will roll out more support measures in coming months.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer would hold further trade talks with their Chinese counterparts by phone this week, part of efforts to end the spat that has weighed on markets.

Spot gold was holding in a narrow range of $1,404-$1,421, and an escape could suggest a direction, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

“We are relatively neutral on gold at this stage, since we are not seeing much movement in other markets that could potentially impact it, namely, a clear direction for the dollar and U.S. Treasury yields,” INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir said.

Among other precious metals, silver rose 0.1% to $15.40 per ounce, after touching $15.46 in the session, its highest since June 25.

Platinum was up 0.5% at $843.39, while palladium dipped 0.7% to $1,552.86.

Reporting by Karthika Suresh Namboothiri in Bengaluru Editing by Edmund Blair

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