Commodities & Futures News

Gold muted amid recession uncertainty, China optimism buoys copper


By Ambar Warrick — Gold prices recovered slightly from a two-day losing streak on Thursday amid growing uncertainty over a potential recession and the path of U.S. monetary policy, while copper prices were steady on growing optimism over a Chinese economic recovery.

U.S. retail sales and industrial production data for December read weaker than expected on Wednesday, ramping up concerns over a broader economic slowdown in the country as it struggles with tight monetary policy and relatively high inflation.

A report from the Federal Reserve, the beige book, also forecast little economic growth in the coming months, even as price pressures ease. Producer price inflation rose less than expected in December.

Still, overnight comments from several Fed members, including Loretta Mester and James Bullard, called for more interest rate hikes, given that inflation is still well above the central bank’s annual 2% target. They also forecast that U.S. borrowing rates will likely peak around 5%, although most members supported a slower pace of hikes.

Spot gold rose 0.2% to $1,907.60 an ounce, while gold futures rose 0.1% to $1,909.15 an ounce by 19:16 ET (00:16 GMT). The yellow metal lost about 0.6% in the past two sessions, after touching an eight-month high earlier this week.

Data from the UK and the Eurozone showed that inflation remained elevated in the two regions, likely heralding more rate hikes by their respective central banks. This could also potentially weigh on bullion prices.

But prices of the yellow metal advanced in recent sessions on growing fears of a global recession, especially as more countries tighten policy to curb high inflation. This also saw gold form a strong support level at $1,900 an ounce.

Other precious metals kept to a tight range on Thursday. Platinum futures rose 0.1%, while silver futures lost 0.2%, although both metals were nursing steep losses this week.

Among industrial metals, copper prices managed to eke out more gains this week as optimism over an economic recovery in China slightly won over fears of a looming recession.

High-grade copper futures steadied at $4.2260 a pound, hovering just below an over-six-month high.

Gita Gopinath, deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund, told Reuters that China could see a sharp economic recovery in the second quarter after it relaxed most anti-COVID restrictions in late-2022.


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