Commodities & Futures News

Gold prices eye 9-month high as markets mull over U.S. recession


By Ambar Warrick — Gold prices rose slightly on Monday, trading close to a nine-month high as markets awaited more U.S. data this week to gauge whether the world’s largest economy was facing a potential recession in 2023.

Trading volumes in metal markets were also relatively smaller at the beginning of the week, amid market holidays in several Asian countries, most notably China, for the Lunar New Year. Chinese markets will be closed for the remainder of the week.

Focus this week is squarely on U.S. fourth-quarter GDP data, due on Thursday. Growth is expected to have slowed in the fourth quarter from the third, as the effects of tighter monetary policy begin to be felt by the economy.

Spot gold rose 0.2% to $1,928.95 an ounce, while gold futures rose 0.1% to $1,930.50 an ounce by 19:32 ET (00:32 GMT). Both instruments were trading close to their highest level since late-April, and were less than $100 away from record highs.

Bullion prices have rallied in recent weeks on a mix of safe haven demand and growing expectations that the Federal Reserve will slow its pace of interest rate hikes in the coming months.

Expectations of slower rate hikes have also dented the dollar and U.S. Treasury yields, further benefiting the prices of gold and other non-yielding assets. But markets remain uncertain over where U.S. interest rates will peak, given that inflation is still trending near 40-year highs.

Focus this week is also on the Core Personal Consumption Expenditures index, the Federal Reserve’s preferred gauge of inflation. While the index is expected to have eased in December from the prior month, it is still expected to remain well above the Fed’s 2% annual target.

Markets are also concerned over the U.S. hitting its debt ceiling limit, with Congress remaining divided over passing an act to raise the ceiling. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a recent letter to Congress that a potential U.S. default on its debt obligations could wreak havoc in global financial markets.

Such a scenario is also expected to greatly boost safe haven demand for precious metals. Platinum futures rose 0.1%, while silver futures jumped 1.4% on Monday.

Among industrial metals, copper prices were little changed near seven-month highs, with focus remaining squarely on a Chinese economic recovery.

High-grade copper futures steadied at $4.2807 a pound, after rallying for the past five weeks.

The world’s largest copper importer is expected to see a strong economic boost from the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, especially after it relaxed most strict anti-COVID measures and reopened its borders after three years of lockdowns.


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