Gold hovers around six-week low amid rate hike uncertainty

By Ambar Warrick — Gold prices hovered around a six-week low on Monday, moving little as traders awaited more cues on U.S. monetary policy from a slew of Federal Reserve speakers this week, as well as the minutes of the central bank’s February meeting.

Gold marked three straight weeks of losses, falling sharply from a nine-month high hit earlier this year as overheated inflation readings and signs of strength in the U.S. jobs markets indicated that the Federal Reserve had enough impetus to keep raising interest rates in the near-term.

Markets are now uncertain over where U.S. interest rates will peak this year, with some analysts positing a potential terminal rate of over 6%.

Spot gold was flat around $1,837.89 an ounce, while gold futures moved little at 1,846.95 an ounce by 19:20 ET (00:20 GMT). Both instruments were nursing three straight weeks of losses.

Rising interest rates boost U.S. Treasury yields, which in turn increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding assets such as gold. The yellow metal had plummeted in 2022 as the Fed embarked on an aggressive rate hike spree to curb inflation.

But stubborn inflation readings for January showed that the central bank still needed to hike rates further, with recent comments from Fed officials suggesting as much. Focus this week is on cues from more Fed speakers, including Atlanta Fed President Ralph Bostic and Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester.

The minutes of the Fed’s February meeting are also due on Wednesday. The central bank had largely maintained its hawkish rhetoric during its meeting, even as it raised interest rates by a relatively smaller 25 basis points.

Focus this week is also on the personal consumption expenditures price index reading for January. The data, which is the Fed’s preferred gauge of inflation, is expected to have remained steady in January from the prior month, indicating sustained inflationary pressure.

Other precious metals retreated on Monday. Platinum futures fell 0.1% to $917.20 an ounce, while silver futures fell 0.5% to $21.598 an ounce.

Among industrial metals, copper futures fell 9.4% to $4.1155 a pound. But the red metal was sitting on strong gains for the past week, amid some optimism over a potential recovery in major importer China.

Supply disruptions in Panama, which could cut off the country’s copper supply, also helped support prices.