Gold rises, set for longest monthly losing streak in 5½ years

  • Rises in U.S. interest rates to cap gold
  • Gold still set for fifth straight monthly decline

Gold ticked higher on Friday as the dollar rose and investors grew jittery about an escalation in the U.S.-China trade dispute after fresh threats by U.S. President Donald Trump, though bullion is still heading for its fifth straight monthly decline.

Spot gold stayed flat at $1,199.48 an ounce while U.S. gold futures were up slightly at $1,205.30 an ounce.

Gold prices are down 1.6 percent in August, with losses this year totaling more than 7 percent.

Trump is prepared to ramp up a trade war with China and has told aides he is ready to impose tariffs on $200 billion more in Chinese imports as soon as a public comment period on the plan ends next week, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.

"Trump's plans have had a significant impact on sentiment and the slightly weaker dollar is supporting gold," said Peter Fertig, analyst at Quantitative Commodity Research, adding that the emerging-market currency crisis was also supporting gold.

A lower U.S. currency makes dollar-priced gold cheaper for holders of other currencies and would potentially boost demand. This is a relationship used by funds to generate buy and sell signals.

However, the prospect of higher U.S. interest rates next month and again before the end of the year is a negative. The U.S. Federal Reserve next meets on Sept. 25-26 and twice more in November and December.

Higher U.S. rates raise the opportunity cost of holding gold, which yields no interest and costs money to store and insure. This is why many investors have sold their gold holdings, as can be seen in exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

The holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed ETF at 24.36 million ounces, are down 13 percent since late April.

"The ongoing outflows from ETFs, record-high speculative shorts and upbeat U.S. economic data are still the major headwinds for gold and signify the recovery might be short- lived," said Religare Securities analyst Sugandha Sachdeva.

Silver was down 0.3 percent at $14.49 an ounce, palladium advanced by 1.7 percent to $981.10 and platinum was down 0.7 percent at $782.75.