April 9, 2018 / 4:07 AM / 10 days ago

PRECIOUS-Gold steady as investors await fresh move in U.S.-China trade spat

    * Asia shares creep ahead, dollar steadies
    * Specs slash net long position in COMEX gold - CFTC
    * Specs raise net short position in silver to record - CFTC
    * Palladium edges higher from near 8-month low hit on Friday

 (Adds analyst comment and updates prices)
    By Swati Verma
    April 9 (Reuters) - Gold prices were little changed in Asian
trade on Monday as investors awaited developments on the
simmering trade spat between the United States and China.
    Spot gold        was down 0.1 percent at $1,331.83 an ounce
as of 0700 GMT, and U.S. gold futures         were nearly
unchanged at $1,335.70 an ounce.
    "We've had certain comments from the United States about
trade conflict over the last week and this weekend. The market
is being dismissive about those issues until they see any real
impact on the ground," said ANZ analyst Daniel Hynes, adding
there was a little bit of a sell-off in the gold market as a
consequence.
    U.S. President Donald Trump predicted on Sunday that China
would take down its trade barriers, expressing optimism despite
escalating trade tensions between the two nations.             
    Trump late on Thursday threatened to slap $100 billion more
in tariffs on Chinese imports, while Beijing said it was fully
prepared to respond with a "fierce counter strike".
    "I think the market is getting numb with the current trade
war news. It is really hard to judge on sentiment as there is no
way to know beforehand as to how the trade war evolves," said
Samson Li, an analyst with Thomson Reuters GFMS.
    "Both parties may say something new every day. However, in
the near-term, we should be wary to the downside actually."
    Elsewhere, easing tensions between the United States and
North Korea dampened the appeal of gold, which is often used as
a store of value during times of financial or political
uncertainty.
    North Korea has told the United States for the first time
that it is prepared to discuss the denuclearization of the
Korean Peninsula when their leaders meet.             
    The dollar steadied on Monday, having retreated late last
week due to concerns over U.S.-China trade tensions and
following data that showed the U.S. economy created the fewest
jobs in six months in March.       
    However, a pickup in wage gains pointed to a tightening
labour market, which should allow the Federal Reserve to raise
interest rates further this year.                          
    Higher interest rates discourage the buying of
non-interest-paying bullion, which is priced in dollars.
    Hedge funds and money managers slashed their net long
position in COMEX gold in the week to April 3 and boosted their
net short position in silver to a record, U.S. Commodity Futures
Trading Commission data showed on Friday.        
    Spot silver        climbed 0.2 percent to $16.38 per ounce
and platinum        rose 0.5 percent to $916.74 per ounce.
    Palladium        gained 0.6 percent to $905.50 an ounce
after hitting $895.47 on Friday, its lowest since mid-August
2017.

 (Reporting by Swati Verma in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu
Sahu and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)
  
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