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Gold steadies with US, Iran stepping back from the brink

Heads for first back-to-back drop since November as geopolitical tensions ebb.
Images: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg

Gold headed for the first back-to-back decline since November as the US and Iran stepped back from a deeper military conflict, blunting the appeal of haven assets as global equities gained ground. Palladium motored to yet another record, extending a meteoric rally.

Bullion headed lower after a retaliatory Iranian missile attack on two US bases in Iraq on Wednesday caused no casualties, allowing President Donald Trump an opportunity to stand down from what had looked like an escalation toward a Mideast war. Stocks in Asia extended a rally that began in America.

After the slump, bullion remains higher this year, building on the commodity’s 18% gain in 2019. Investors are weighing lower interest rates that have cut the opportunity cost of holding gold, while trade-war related risks between the US and China still exist as progress beyond any phase-one deal is still in question. There’s also the possibility that Mideast tensions may spike once again.

“Despite falling geopolitical uncertainty, a sense of cautiousness remains in traders’ minds,” CMC Markets Singapore Pte said in a note, before Thursday’s sell-off gathered pace. “This puts gold in a good position to regain favour should any unexpected event happen.”

Spot bullion fell as much as 1% to $1 540.33 an ounce, and traded at $1 545.07 at 7:00 a.m. in London. Prices — which had rallied to $1 611.42 as news of the the Iranian attack first broke, the highest level since 2013 — haven’t seen a consecutive daily loss since November 25.

While prices drop, gold investors are also weighing up the outlook for the US economy and whether any change is likely in monetary policy from the Federal Reserve, which cut rates three times in 2019 before pausing. On Friday, traders will get the latest monthly nonfarm jobs report.

Palladium surged to an all-time high of $2 148.81 an ounce, driven by a robust set of fundamentals, with strong consumption from carmakers combined with tight supplies. Prices are up about 9% this year already. Silver fell 1.3%, while platinum was steady.

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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