Global gold prices hit one-week high as US Fed signals gradual rate hikes

Spot gold rose 0.6% to $1,226.21 per ounce at 11.53am after touching $1,226.95, the highest since 7 March, earlier in the session


Fed chair Janet Yellen said the central bank would stick to a gradual path of interest rate rises even if inflation runs above its 2% target. Photo: AP
Fed chair Janet Yellen said the central bank would stick to a gradual path of interest rate rises even if inflation runs above its 2% target. Photo: AP

Bengaluru: Gold hit a one-week high on Thursday after the US Federal Reserve signalled a cautious stance on interest rate policy this year, pushing the dollar to its lowest in a month. The Fed on Wednesday raised interest rates for the second time in three months, with officials sticking to their outlook for two more rate hikes this year and three more in 2018.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said that the central bank would stick to a gradual path of interest rate rises even if inflation runs above its 2% target. Spot gold had risen 0.6% to $1,226.21 per ounce at 11.53am after touching $1,226.95, the highest since 7 March, earlier in the session.

US gold futures for April delivery were up 2.1% at $1,226.3 an ounce.

“Yellen reiterated that future rate increases would be ‘gradual’, with this key word bestowing a dovish tone to the outlook,” said INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir.

Gold is highly sensitive to rising US interest rates, as these increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced. Recent rate hikes have seen gold decline in the run-up to an increase, before recovering in its wake.

Gold slumped to a 10-month low in mid-December after rates were increased for the first time in a year, before turning around to post its strongest increase in seven months in January. The dollar index was down 0.2% at 100.74, having earlier touched a one-month low.

The euro strengthened against the US currency after early returns showed the Netherlands’ centre-right Prime Minister Mark Rutte had roundly seen off a challenge by anti-Islam, anti-EU Geert Wilders in an election on Wednesday, a huge relief to other EU governments facing a wave of nationalism.

“The market will be looking at the French election coming up relatively soon,” ANZ analyst Daniel Hynes said. “However, we would need to see the far right in particular really gather strong resolve from those elections to see gold prices being pushed even higher.”

Meanwhile, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust , the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose 0.53 percent on Wednesday. Inflows into the fund so far this week have already nearly erased last week’s outflows.

In other precious metals, spot silver climbed 0.8% to $17.43 per ounce, after hitting its highest in a week at $17.48 earlier in the session.

Platinum was up 1.68% at $964.99 per ounce, close to $969.60, its highest since 7 March, marked earlier in the day. Palladium advanced 1.1% to $771.50 per ounce. Reuters

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