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Gold eased on Wednesday as a recovery in the dollar pulled prices further from the previous day's near six-week peak, though a drop in equities on the back of jitters over a U.S.-China trade stand-off kept the metal underpinned.
The dollar pulled back some lost ground against a currency basket after sliding to its lowest since mid-February on Tuesday, supported by hopes that negotiations between the United States and China would avoid a full-blown trade war.
"Despite the fact that the equity markets are near a cliff, we have not seen much interest amidst retail investors for gold and the strength of the dollar index is also weighing on the price," Think Markets chief market analyst Naeem Aslam said. "However, given the geopolitical uncertainties we have, we do think that the path of least resistance is skewed to the upside."
Spot gold touched its highest since mid-February on Tuesday before pulling back to end the day down 0.6 percent, its biggest one-day loss in two weeks. The metal is set to close the first quarter up 3 percent.
Stocks fell again on Wednesday as persistent jitters about a U.S.-China trade war and the prospect of a regulatory crackdown on high-growth companies such as Facebook left investors facing their first quarterly drop in equities in two years.
Holdings of the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, New York-listed SPDR Gold Shares, fell 1.2 tons on Tuesday to 846.12 tons, data from the fund showed. So far this week it has seen outflows of 4.4 tons.
Among other precious metals, silver was down 1.15 percent at $16.296 an ounce. The metal fell 1 percent on Tuesday after hitting a three-week high of $16.80 in early trade. Platinum was down 0.7 percent at $936.40 an ounce, having fallen to its lowest since early January in the previous session at $935.
Palladium was down 0.51 percent at at $967.50 an ounce. The autocatalyst metal is on track to end March down 6.6 percent, its biggest monthly loss since December 2016, and the first quarter down more than 8 percent.
Nonetheless, its underlying supply and demand picture suggests prices will remain supported near January's record high, Societe Generale said in a report. "We see the current price dip as a buying opportunity," it said. "Given that palladium is widely regarded as the most 'industrial' metal of the precious metal complex, and thereby more closely linked to the business cycle, it is not surprising it fell along with equities."