Gold prices eked out gains on Thursday as recession fears dented risk sentiment, with traders tracking the latest on a bruising U.S.-China trade war as well as global central banks for direction on interest rates.
“Gold is taking strength from the impression that trade attitudes are hardening, and that China is likely to be less flexible after the way (U.S.) President Trump has changed his mind and message over the last few days,” said Nicholas Frappell, global general manager at ABC Bullion.
On the trade front, the Trump administration on Wednesday made official its extra 5% tariff on $300 billion in Chinese imports, and set collection dates of Sept. 1 and Dec. 15.
While Trump in recent days has toned down his aggressive China trade rhetoric, it has not translated to a retreat from the planned tariff hikes. It remains unclear whether U.S. and Chinese negotiators will resume in-person talks in September as previously suggested by U.S. officials.
Adding to the uncertainty was British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s move to suspend parliament for more than a month before Brexit.
Underscoring the gloomy global sentiment, yields on 30-year U.S. Treasuries and 10-year German bunds hit record lows on Wednesday.
The U.S. Treasury yield curve remains inverted, which is commonly considered a sign of an impending recession.
“There are very broad expectations all around the globe that the next move from the central banks would be a rate cut,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, adding that this is very supportive of gold.
The U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central bank are expected to cut rates next month, while many investors believe the Bank of Japan could also join the fray if market sentiment weakens further.
Gold tends to appreciate on expectations of lower interest rates, which reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.
Markets are fully priced in for a quarter-point cut in interest rates by the U.S. Fed next month, and over 100 basis points of easing by the end of next year.
Indicative of market sentiment, holdings of the SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, have increased by 6.6% this month.
Gold is biased to break a resistance at $1,546 per ounce and thrust to $1,568 before reversing the uptrend, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was little changed after rising 0.2% in the previous session.
Elsewhere, silver rose 1.2% to $18.56 per ounce, its highest since April 2017.
Platinum rose 1.5% to $913.86, while palladium was up 1.1% to $1,485.71 per ounce.