Gold steadies as ECB statement weighs on dollar

Key Points
  • Euro firms as ECB drops reference to increasing bond buys
  • Platinum market surplus set to shrink this year-WPIC

Gold steadied on Thursday after the previous day's slide, with a drop in the dollar against the euro after the European Central Bank's latest policy statement reducing pressure on the metal.

The ECB said on Thursday that it could extend the bond purchases it has been carrying out over the past three years to depress borrowing costs, but it omitted a longstanding reference to increasing them. That is seen as a precursor to a broader policy revision later this year to rein in its extraordinary stimulus measures.

Spot gold was down 0.38 percent at $1,320.40 an ounce by 10:20 a.m. EST, little changed from late on Wednesday, when it touched a one-week high of $1,340.42 before closing 0.6 percent lower. U.S. gold futures for April delivery were down 0.48 percent at $1,321.30.

The dollar, which had been buoyed by news that the White House could exempt key trading partners from the steel and aluminum import tariffs it proposed last week, edged lower against the euro after the ECB statement.

ABN Amro analyst Georgette Boele said the dollar would remain the key driver of gold prices in the near term. "The only reason we were up near $1,340 was because the dollar fell towards the end of last week," she said.

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Friday's non-farm payrolls data for February, a key barometer of the U.S. economy, is now being awaited for further clues on the pace of Federal Reserve rate increases.

Gold is highly sensitive to rising U.S. interest rates, which increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced. Gold traders are also awaiting further news on plans for U.S. tariffs on some imported goods.

The White House said late on Wednesday that Canada, Mexico and possibly other countries may be granted exemptions, at least for a while.

Trump will sign a proclamation establishing the tariffs during a ceremony scheduled for 3:30 p.m. EST, a source familiar with the situation said. "Should tariff concerns remain in focus, gold should once again find its feet," ANZ said in a note.

Silver fell 0.21 percent to $16.463 an ounce, while platinum was down 0.51 percent at $947.40 after touching its weakest since Jan. 4 at $943.

The platinum market will be broadly balanced this year as a drop in supply trims last year's surplus to negligible levels, the World Platinum Investment Council said on Thursday.

Palladium climbed 1.65 percent at $982.97 after dropping to its lowest since Feb. 9 at $961.55 on Wednesday.