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Commodities

Gold steadies below $2,000 as rate hike jitters boost dollar, yields



 

By Ambar Warrick

Investing.com — Gold prices hovered below key levels in early Asian trade on Tuesday, coming under pressure from a firmer dollar and Treasury yields as markets reconsidered expectations for an imminent pause in the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes.

Recent hawkish comments from Fed officials saw markets pricing in a greater chance of a rate hike in May, and brewed uncertainty over whether the central bank will pause in June. The head of the Bank of International Settlements, Agustín Carstens, also warned that interest rates may need to stay higher for longer due to high inflation and rising risks of instability in the global economy.

The prospect of rising interest rates weighed heavily on gold, given that higher yields increase the opportunity cost of holding the yellow metal. Gold prices fell sharply for the past two sessions, after racing to a 13-month high last week.

Spot gold was flat at $1,994.80 an ounce, while gold futures steadied at $2,006.80 an ounce by 20:21 ET (00:21 GMT). Both instruments sank nearly 2% over the past two sessions, after coming within striking distance of a 2020 record high.

Signs of resilience in the U.S. economy brewed concerns that the Fed has enough economic headroom to keep raising interest rates, while also sapping safe haven demand for gold. Fears of a U.S. recession had spurred steady inflows into gold over the past month, as markets grew increasingly pessimistic over the economic outlook.

The dollar rose against a basket of currencies for a second straight session on Monday, recovering from a near one-year low hit earlier. Treasury yields also firmed in overnight trade.

Fed Fund futures prices show that markets are positioning for an over 80% chance that the Fed will hike rates by 25 basis points (bps) in May. Expectations for a 25 bps hike in June have also grown, although the general consensus is still skewed towards a pause by the Fed.

Still, the prospect of rising interest rates weighed heavily on metal markets. Platinum and silver futures steadied on Tuesday after tumbling in the prior session.

Among industrial metals, copper prices edged lower on Tuesday after logging steady declines over the past two sessions. Copper futures fell 0.2% to $4.0645 a pound.

Focus is squarely on first-quarter economic growth data from China, due later in the day, to gauge the strength of a recovery in the world’s largest copper importer as it reemerges from three years of COVID-related disruptions.

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