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Gold Prices Mixed, Adjusting to Post-Fed Uncertainty

CommoditiesMar 18, 2021 19:55
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By Barani Krishnan - Gold prices were mixed on Thursday, with futures of the yellow metal settling higher while spot bullion traded lower, as markets tried to adjust to the uncertainty posed by the Federal Reserve’s dovish stance toward ramping up bond yields.

Gold for April delivery settled up $5.40, or 0.4%, at $1,732.50 an ounce on New York’s Comex, after falling more than $10 at the session low to below $1,717.

For the week, the benchmark futures gold contract was up 0.7%.

But the spot price of gold, which fund managers sometimes rely on for direction more than futures, was down $10.99, or 0.6%, $1,735.21 by 3:40 PM ET (19:20 GMT). It hit an intraday low of $1,721.74 earlier.

Markets across the board experienced gyrations on the day, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq tumbling and the Dow also closing lower. Oil plunged as much 9% in post-settlement trade.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, meanwhile, hit a 13-month high above 1.7%.

Investor uncertainty grew after Fed Chairman Jay Powell in his monthly news conference on Wednesday declined to give any hint of the central bank buying more bonds to tamp down surging yields since the start of the year. The rise in yields has been limiting the rally in risk assets.

Powell said the U.S. jobless rate will likely continue declining from February’s 6.2 percent while inflation expands 2.4 percent this year against an overall 6.5 percent GDP growth expected in an economy rebounding from a pandemic-stricken 2020. But these still weren’t enough to raise interest rates, the Fed Chair said.

The surging bond yields have been an anathema to gold, forcing the yellow metal to lose 17% from record highs of nearly $2,100 in August. Any indications by the Fed that it will intensify bond buying in the coming months could just be the thing to clamp down on surging yields and spark a rally in gold.

For decades, gold was touted as the best store of value whenever there were worries about inflation. Yet, in recent months, it was deliberately prevented from being the go-to asset for investors as Wall Street banks, hedge funds and other actors shorted the metal while pushing up U.S. bond yields and the dollar instead.

Bond yields have surged on the argument that economic recovery in the coming months could extend beyond Fed expectations, leading to spiraling inflation, as the central bank insists on keeping interest rates at near zero.

The dollar, which typically falls in an environment of heightened inflation fears, also rallied instead on the same runaway economic recovery logic. The greenback’s status as a reserve currency has bolstered its standing as a safe haven, leading to new long positions being built in the dollar. In recent days, the Dollar Index has hovered near 92, further capping gold.

Gold Prices Mixed, Adjusting to Post-Fed Uncertainty

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