Gold firms after 3-day slide as dollar retreats

Gold bars at the Austrian Gold and Silver Separating Plant in Vienna, Austria.
Leonhard Foeger | Reuters
Gold bars at the Austrian Gold and Silver Separating Plant in Vienna, Austria.
Leonhard Foeger | Reuters

Gold firmed after three days of losses on Tuesday as the dollar retreated from an earlier three-month peak, with lower prices tempting some buyers back to the market.

Gold slid nearly 2 percent in the last three trading sessions as a rally in U.S. yields towards the 3 percent mark pushed the dollar index to its highest since mid-January, making the metal more attractive to price-sensitive buyers. It also suffers from rising yields in its own right, as these lift the opportunity cost of holding non-interest bearing assets like bullion.

Spot gold was up 0.6 percent at $1,331.65 an ounce at 2:28 p.m. ET, while U.S. gold futures for June delivery settled up $9 an ounce at $1,330.

"There are still a lot of risks out there that could flare up at any time," Capital Economics analyst Simona Gambarini said. "There might be some investors who hadn't bought insurance before who think now is a good time to get in."

Gold is often seen as a safe store of value in times of elevated geopolitical or financial risk. It has benefited in recent weeks from concerns over the U.S.-China trade dispute, sanctions on Russia and unrest in the Middle East, but has been kept in check by the prospect of further interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve.

"Based on interest rates, prices should be lower," Gambarini said. "But there are a lot of other factors, and a lot of tensions that have been boosting prices... we think gold will continue to trade in this range between $1,300-1,350 depending on what happens with those risks, and the Fed hiking rates."

The dollar took a breather on Monday after its recent march higher, while European stocks also eased 0.2 percent.

Autocatalyst metal palladium was down another 1.1 percent at $969 an ounce, having plunged 5 percent on Monday after the U.S. gave American customers of Russia's biggest aluminium producer Rusal more time to comply with sanctions. Rusal owns a 28 percent stake in Norilsk Nickel, the world's biggest palladium producer.

"(Palladium) has followed base metals prices on their downward trajectory now that the United States is considering lifting the sanctions against Rusal and probably will not impose further sanctions against Russia," Commerzbank said in a note. "In response, the price gap to platinum has narrowed to $50 per troy ounce again."