Futures & Commodities

Gold drops to 4-month low after US Fed douses rate cut hopes

Umit Bektas | Reuters

Gold prices slumped to an over four-month low on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) axed any hopes for a rate cut in the near term, subduing demand for the non-interest bearing bullion.

Spot gold was down 0.6% to $1,269 per ounce, after touching its lowest since end-December 2018 at $1,265.85 earlier in the session.

It is on track to post its biggest one-day percentage decline in over two weeks.

U.S. gold futures settled $12.20 lower at $1,272.

"A lot of people were positioned for the FOMC statement to be little bit more dovish than it actually was," said Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst with Forex.com.

"We have seen an implied odds of a 2019 rate cut fall from 75 percent to 50 percent so people are revising their rate cut expectations as the Fed was not as dovish as people expected."

The Federal Reserve kept the benchmark interest rate unchanged on Wednesday, in line with the market's expectations.

However, market participants were taken by surprise when the central bank emphasised it saw no compelling reason to consider a rate cut any time soon, citing rising employment and economic growth.

Also weighing on gold was the U.S. dollar, which gained 0.1 percent against key rivals on the Fed's comments, making gold costlier for investors holding other currencies.

Higher interest rates increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding gold and tends to boost the U.S. dollar.

"Market participants are now looking out for the U.S. non-farm payrolls data on Friday and if we break out over 200,000 (jobs) then that will put additional pressure on gold," said Phillip Streible, senior commodities strategist at RJO Futures.

Economists polled by Reuters are expecting total non-farm employment to have increased by 185,000 jobs in April.

Investors are also closely monitoring the U.S.-China trade talks, anticipating a quick resolution to the year-long tit-for-tat tariff war.

Any positive news from the negotiations tend to boost appetite for riskier assets, denting gold's safe-haven appeal.

Elsewhere, silver was down 0.3 percent at $14.64 an ounce, holding close to a more than four-month low of $14.52 touched earlier in the session.

Platinum fell 1.3 percent to $852.89, after touching its lowest in a month.

Palladium gained 0.2 percent to $1,355.10, having touched its lowest since Jan. 25 at $1,309.67 in the previous session.