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Gold prices rangebound as Fed reiterates higher-for-longer rates

Published 22/02/2024, 06:32
Updated 22/02/2024, 06:32
© Reuters. Gold prices rose slightly in Asian trade on Thursday, but remained largely within a recent trading range as a slew of signals from the Federal Reserve reiterated the prospect of higher-for-longer U.S. interest rates.

Bullion prices saw some relief this week as the dollar fell sharply from three-month highs. But further losses in the greenback now appeared limited, as Treasury yields remained close to recent peaks. 

Gold moved largely within a $2,000 to $2,050 an ounce trading range established over the past month. While further gains in the yellow metal were stymied by the prospect of higher rates, its downside was also limited by increased concerns over worsening economic conditions across the globe, especially as Japan and the UK entered a recession. 

Spot gold rose 0.2% to $2,029.78 an ounce, while gold futures expiring in April rose 0.3% to $2,039.55 an ounce by 00:13 ET (05:13 GMT). 

Fed minutes, official addresses reiterate rate outlook 

The minutes of the Fed’s late-January meeting, released on Wednesday, showed that the bank was in no hurry to begin cutting interest rates early. This notion was echoed by a slew of Fed officials this week, who cited concerns over sticky inflation and persistent strength in the U.S. economy. 

The comments saw traders largely wipe out expectations for rate cuts in March and May, while also ramping up expectations that the central bank will keep rates steady in June. 

The CME Fedwatch tool showed traders pricing in a 53.6% chance for a 25 basis point cut in June, and a 28.7% chance for rates to remain steady. The latter rose from a 19.7% chance seen last week.

The prospect of higher-for-longer rates bodes poorly for gold, given that it increases the opportunity cost of investing in the yellow metal.

Still, Goldman Sachs analysts said in a recent note that the yellow metal stands to benefit greatly from any cuts in interest rates this year. Citi analysts had also forecast the potential for gold prices to reach $3,000 an ounce by 2025. 

Other precious metals rose on Thursday, but were nursing steep losses from the prior session. Platinum futures rose 0.4% to $894.10 an ounce, while silver futures rose 0.6% to $23.012 an ounce.

Copper prices steady as China optimism cools

Among industrial metals, copper prices steadied at three-week highs as investors waited to see if the Chinese government would roll out more stimulus measures.

Copper futures expiring in March hovered around $3.8792 a pound, and were trading up 1.1% this week.

A slew of supportive measures from the Chinese government had boosted copper prices in recent sessions. But markets were now waiting to see whether the government will roll out more support, given that the Chinese economy was nursing three years of weak growth.

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