Gold dropped on Monday as investors assessed signs that China’s economy is struggling to recover ahead of minutes from the US Federal Reserve later in the week.
Spot gold went down 1.2% to $1,780.13 per ounce by 12:30 p.m. ET, after falling by as much as 1.6% earlier in the session. US gold futures also slipped 1.2% to $1,794.40 per ounce in New York.
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On Monday, China’s central bank unexpectedly cut its key interest rate as it ramped up support for an economy handicapped by virus lockdowns and a deepening property crisis. Economic data showed the country’s recovery is ebbing, potentially crimping physical demand for gold in the world’s largest consumer.
Despite coming off a fourth weekly gain, bullion has now come under pressure from a stronger US dollar amid concerns over further rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve. The dollar index edged higher Monday, making gold and other commodities more expensive for overseas buyers.
Treasury yields, however, fell, which would normally help bullion, but the bond yield curve remained deeply inverted, signalling worries that the Fed’s monetary tightening to fight stubbornly high inflation will spark a US recession.
“The US Empire data was rotten, and it has reminded the Fed that they need to be extra careful with their monetary policy as the US economy has applied an emergency brakes,” said Naeem Aslam, Chief Market Analyst at Ava Trade, in a Bloomberg note. For bullion, it still needs to break the key psychological level of $1,800 an ounce before moving further up, he said.
“Gold has stuck around the $1,800 handle, and today a stronger dollar is pushing gold and the entire commodity complex lower,” RJO Futures senior market strategist Bob Haberkorn told Reuters.
“It is a cautious trade right now in gold, as the Fed is going to continue raising rates … investors do see rate hikes in the horizon,” Haberkorn added.
Traders will be looking to the release of minutes from the Fed’s July meeting on Wednesday, which may offer clues as to what conditions would prompt the US central bank to go big with tightening yet again in September. Bets in financial markets on the size of the next increase have swung between 50 and 75 basis points.
Inflation in the US is likely to remain high into the fourth quarter, which could drive some near-term headwinds for gold, although the worst is likely over, said Yeap Jun Rong, a market strategist at IG Asia Pte.
“Today’s move lower could be due to some profit-taking as markets may have already priced the peaking-inflation narrative to a large extent.”
(With files from Bloomberg and Reuters)