Futures & Commodities

Gold sheds over 1% as bets for big Fed rate cut fade

Ilya Naymushin | Reuters

Gold fell more than 1% on Wednesday on signals the U.S. Federal Reserve would not make too steep a cut to interest rates next month, but still held ground above the key psychological $1,400 level.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said on Tuesday the bank is "insulated from short-term political pressures" as policymakers contemplate monetary easing.

Spot gold shed 0.6% to $1,413.8 per ounce, snapping a six-session streak of gains.

Prices hit a six-year peak of $1,438.63 in the previous session primarily on the back of heightened expectations that the Fed, like many counterparts around the world, would cut rates in acknowledgment of tepid economic stimulus and weak data.

U.S. gold futures for August delivery fell 0.1% to $1,416.8.

"In gold, people were looking for a reason to sell some just because over the past week and a half gold has gone up exponentially. It had that break down and then kept on running," said Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global Investors.

"You're seeing people playing the volatility."

Powell stressed the central bank's independence from U.S. President Donald Trump, who is pushing for rate cuts. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, considered one of the most dovish U.S. central bankers, surprised some investors by saying a 50 basis point cut in rates "would be overdone."

Following the statements from the Fed officials, gold sapped gains and has dropped nearly 2.6%. Lower interest rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding gold, prompting investors to sell some.

According to latest data from CME Group's FedWatch program, federal funds futures implied that traders now see a 27% chance of the Fed lowering rates by half a percentage point in July, compared to 42% on Monday.

The comments by Powell and Bullard have assisted in "enabling the dollar to find some much-needed support and undermining buck-denominated precious metals," Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst with Forex.com, wrote in a note, adding that a rebound in equities on trade talk hopes between U.S. and China has further pressured gold.

The two largest economies aim to revive their trade negotiations in a meeting between the two presidents at the G20 summit this week. The U.S. Treasury secretary said the trade deal is 90% complete.

Among other precious metals, silver fell 0.4% to $15.30 per ounce, while platinum rose 0.9% to $813.03. Spot palladium was 0.3% higher at $1,533.10 per ounce.