Gold slips as dollar gains, investors eye trade talks

Leonhard Foeger | Reuters

Gold eased on Wednesday on a firmer dollar, but held in a $5 range as investors waited for signs of resolution in U.S.-China trade talks, while keeping an eye on the Federal Reserve's monetary policy.

Spot gold was 0.41 percent lower at $1,309.55 per ounce at 1:50 p.m. EST.

U.S. gold futures settled down $4.80 at $1,314.4

"For gold prices to firm further, we need to see signs of easing trade tensions," which could stem safe haven flows into the dollar, said Suki Cooper, precious metals analyst at Standard Chartered Bank.

"Gold is likely to consolidate above $1,300 before we see the next move higher."

The U.S. dollar index firmed near a two-week high against a basket of currencies, denting bullion's appeal.

Investors have, since last year, preferred the safety of the dollar due to the United States' trade spat with China.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday that he and other U.S. officials will travel to Beijing next week for trade talks.

However, gold has mostly held its own against the dollar this year, reflecting underlying momentum for the metal, analysts said.

"We've repeatedly seen decent rallies in gold when the dollar has been falling, while rebounds in the greenback have not had the opposite effect," said OANDA senior market analyst Craig Erlam.

"I think this reflects a very bullish mentality among gold traders and a reluctance to concede ground."

Bullion found some support as a safe haven after U.S. President Donald Trump repeated his promise to build a border wall in his State of the Union address, raising the prospect of another U.S. government shutdown, analysts said. Trump also did not offer much clarity on the trade row.

Gold denominated in euros climbed to the highest since early May, 2017, at 1,155.65 euros per ounce.

"European demand for gold has continued to grow with the political uncertainty across Europe, whether related to Brexit or the EU," Cooper said.

Investors are also keeping a close eye on the U.S. Fed's future monetary policy.

Gold rose to its highest since late April last week after the Fed kept interest rates steady but has lost ground ever since after solid U.S. jobs data last Friday.

"Focusing on the technical picture, the metal has the potential to rebound towards $1,320 if $1,308 proves to be reliable support," Lukman Otunuga, research analyst at FXTM, said in a note.

"A breakdown below $1,308 is likely to invite a decline back towards the psychological $1,300 level."

In other metals, palladium dipped 0.36 percent to $1,376.50 per ounce.

Silver was down 1.01 percent at $15.68, and platinum fell 1.35 percent to $805.