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Gold holds near 3-1/2 month highs, Trump speech on radar

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AP

Gold recovered late Monday after sliding in response to Robert Kaplan's comments. With it's late-day moves, the precious metal rose to settle at a 3-1/2 month high.

Kaplan, a voting member on The Fed's policymaking committee, reiterated his view that a rate hike should come sooner rather than later.

The Fed is scheduled to hold its next monetary policy meeting March 14, with the possibility of a rate hike high enough to keep investors intrigued. Market expectations for a rate hike in March are around 50 percent, according to Fed funds futures.

Spot gold was up 0.03 percent at $1,256.95 per ounce. The metal hit its highest since Nov. 11 at $1,260.10 in the previous session. U.S. gold futures rose 50 cents to settle at $1,258.80.

Investors area also waiting on details of President Donald Trump's policy, which he should revel to Congress when he addresses them Tuesday.

"What he reveals might be important for gold. For example, if he announces significant fiscal easing, that would raise inflation expectations and lead investors into gold," said Danske Bank analyst Jens Pederson.

"But the border adjustment tax (import tax) could push the dollar higher and that could be negative for gold ... The whole area of foreign policy may mean more political uncertainty and that's positive for gold."

Analysts also expect nervousness ahead of elections in the Netherlands, France, and Germany to help to buoy gold prices over the course of this year but say that U.S. interest rates are also important.

Higher U.S. rates could mean a stronger U.S. currency, which makes dollar-denominated metals more expensive for holders of other currencies.

"Most of the market still expects the U.S. Federal Reserve to pass on raising rates for now. We would agree with this consensus view," said INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir. "This could offer gold more upside, at least going into March."

The U.S. central bank meets March 14-15, though rate increases are largely expected to be postponed until the June meeting.

Bets on higher prices can be seen in data from the CFTC, showing hedge funds and money managers holding larger net long positions in COMEX gold, reaching the highest in nearly three months during the week to Feb. 21.

Holdings of the largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, New York's SPDR Gold Trust, have also risen more than 5 percent this month.

However, attempts to push prices higher have met strong resistance in recent days at $1,260, near the 200-day moving average, traders said.

Spot silver fell 0.02 percent to $18.35. The metal hit $18.41 earlier in the session, its highest in 3-1/2 months.

Platinum gained 0.69 percent to $1,030.25. Palladium rose 1.89 percent to $783.

Societe Generale sees robust demand for palladium auto catalysts from Chinese car manufacturers.

"The average palladium loading on a Chinese gasoline car is set to grow again next year, as Chinese standards for light-duty gasoline vehicles are implemented nationally starting in January 2017," said Societe Generale analyst Robin Bhar.

"The demand outlook remains less compelling for platinum due to its exposure to diesel technology, which remains under scrutiny from the emissions scandal."