Gold edges lower on political drama and firming dollar

Key Points
  • Spot gold may rise to $1,334/oz — technicals
  • Trump fires Tillerson, sparking fears of U.S. protectionism
  • Dollar reverses losses, stocks dip on Tillerson news

Gold prices edged lower on Wednesday, pressured by a recovering dollar but supported by safe-haven buying after the sudden dismissal of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The U.S. dollar inched higher against major currencies after slipping following the dismissal of Tillerson. A stronger dollar makes commodities priced in the greenback more expensive for holders of other currencies.

Spot gold inched 0.06 percent lower at $1,324.91 an ounce at 3:25 p.m. EST. It earlier touched $1,330.02, its highest since March 7. U.S. gold futures for April delivery were down 0.11 percent at $1,325.60 an ounce.

"Gold is caught between these negative impacts and sometimes positive impacts are coming from a weaker stock market, U.S. policy and also the frequent shift between risk-on and risk-off Peter Fertig.

More worried about geopolitical risk, trade tariffs: Expert

Technical Fibonacci support for gold was at $1,317.20 an ounce with resistance at $1,336.30, said analysts at ScotiaMocatta in a note.

Gold is seen as a safe haven during times of political and financial uncertainty and benefited on Tuesday when President Donald Trump fired Tillerson after a series of public rifts over policy, replacing him with loyalist CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Investors have switched to become more risk averse following the unexpected news of Tillerson's dismissal and the appointment of Pompeo, said OCBC analyst Barnabas Gan.

"Pompeo is a supporter of Trump's trade policy and could help advance his agenda of imposing it on U.S. trading partners ... all this uncertainty and risk aversion leaves gold as a safe haven option," Gan added.

Meanwhile, data on Tuesday showed U.S. consumer prices cooled in February amid a decline in gasoline prices and a moderation in the cost of rental accommodation, the latest indication that an anticipated pick-up in inflation probably will be gradual.

Inflation is a key economic factor the U.S. central bank considers when deciding monetary policy. A strong U.S. inflation reading could raise expectations for future interest rate increases, which would put pressure on non-yielding bullion.

In other precious metals, silver gained 0.14 percent to $16.562 an ounce. Platinum was flat at $962 an ounce after touching a one-week high, and palladium moved 0.35 percent lower to $987.55 an ounce having reached a near two-week high earlier in the session.