Gold prices hold steady with focus on global growth

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

Gold steadied on Wednesday just above a five-week low touched in the last session as the dollar retreated slightly and stocks edged lower, with investors awaiting further signals on the health of the global economy.

Spot gold was down 0.11 percent at $1,285.70 per ounce as of 2:09 p.m. ET, trading in a narrow $7 range. U.S. gold futures settled $2.90 higher at $1,287.60 per ounce.

"After the massive sell-off (in gold) it is not surprising to see the prices stabilize given the cautious tone on the equity market especially today," said Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg.

"The risks (to the market) are not out, they are only delayed."

U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday as investors stayed on the sidelines following a strong rally this year, while the U.S. dollar index was trading below a two-week high hit on Tuesday.

Gold hit a low of $1,280.70 on Tuesday, its weakest level since Jan. 25, with prices down more than 4 percent since hitting a 10-month peak on Feb. 20.

"Gold has found a bid and is starting to stabilize while we are waiting for the ECB pronouncement tomorrow," said George Gero, managing director at RBC Wealth Management.

Weak data from the euro zone the last couple of weeks has fueled expectations that the ECB at Thursday's meeting could downgrade the area's growth and inflation forecasts for 2019 and hold off raising interest rates.

Meanwhile, the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation & Development cut forecasts again for the global economy in 2019 and 2020, citing trade rows and Brexit uncertainty.

Investors are now watchful for U.S. jobs data to be disclosed on Friday, which is considered an indicator of the health of the world's largest economy.

"The market is impatiently awaiting the release of the jobs numbers, for which the yellow metal could have an asymmetric reaction to the upside on any disappointment," Bart Melek, head of commodity strategies at TD Securities in Toronto, said in a note.

Elsewhere, palladium rose 0.93 percent to $1,529.55 per ounce.

Spot silver declined 0.39 percent to $15.06 per ounce, and hit $15, its lowest level since Dec. 27, earlier in the session. Platinum dipped 1.94 percent to $820.50.

The largest surplus since at least 2013 is projected for the global platinum market this year, the World Platinum Investment Council said, forecasting an oversupply of 680,000 ounces in 2019 after a surplus of 645,000 ounces last year.