Gold consolidates in tight range, palladium falls

Gold bullion bars and coins.
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Gold bullion bars and coins.

Gold held steady on Wednesday, consolidating in a tight range, with the U.S. Federal Reserve's dovish stance on monetary policy offering limited support, while palladium stayed above the key $1,550 level and not far from its record high.

Spot gold fell 0.7 percent at $1,319.31 per ounce at 1:37 p.m. ET, and U.S. gold futures settled $7.30 lower at $1,321.20.

"The Fed is clearly in a dovish mode, but it has been less potent than normal because the dollar hasn't depreciated as much as it normally would have," said Macquarie commodity strategist Matthew Turner.

"Gold is a bit like riding a bicycle, you have to keep going forward to stay balanced, there has to be some story to be up a bit, and right now, we don't have that story."

Gold has gained about 15 percent from a more than one-and-half-year low touched in mid-August last year.

Providing a solid foundation for bullion was U.S. Fed chairman Jerome Powell's reiteration that the central bank would remain "patient" while deciding the future of interest rates.

The dollar was little changed on Wednesday, but remained near a three-week low after shedding 0.4 percent post Powell's overnight comment.

"In the very near term, we do have this major question mark around the trade tensions. If there were to be an agreement, it would provide a short-term boost to risky assets and that's a headwind for gold," Capital Economics analyst Ross Strachan said.

On investors' radar is U.S-China trade relations, with U.S. President Donald Trump indicating he may soon sign a deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping to end a dispute blamed for slowing global economic growth.

Meanwhile, spot palladium shed 2.28 percent to $1,524.50 per ounce. In the previous session, it hit a record peak of $1,565.09.

The autocatalyst metal has climbed 23 percent this year on widening supply tightness in the market, while threats of strikes by mineworkers in South Africa added further support.

However, analysts suggest the strong rally in prices within a short span could trigger a correction, with the metal now slipping into overbought territory.

Norilsk Nickel, the world's largest palladium producer, said tighter emissions regulations in all major markets and flattish primary supply would widen a palladium deficit in 2019.

Elsewhere, silver fell 1.31 percent to $15.72 per ounce, while platinum rose 0.58 percent to $861.