Futures & Commodities

Gold scales over 6-year peak on heightened trade, economic risks

Hand holding gold bullion.
Edgar Su | Reuters

Gold surged to a more than six-year peak on Monday, surpassing $1,550 in early trade, as investors sought safety from a host of uncertainties including heightened U.S.-China trade tensions and a fragile global economy.

Spot gold rose 0.2% to $1,529.12 per ounce, paring gains to shed more than $20 from earlier in the session when the metal had jumped to its highest since April 2013 at $1,554.56. U.S. gold futures for December delivery gained 0.1% to $1,538.9.

Meanwhile, gold in euro and Australian dollar hit record levels.

"There's a great deal of uncertainty and instability in the global financial markets and economies. And in that kind of environment, investors are bouncing around so they are buying into gold and buying out of gold," said Jeffrey Christian, managing partner of CPM Group.

Washington announced last week an 5% additional duty on $550 billion in targeted Chinese goods, hours after China unveiled retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. products. Typically, gold is used as a place to park assets during times of global uncertainty.

The long-drawn trade war between the world's two largest economies has roiled markets since its inception more than a year ago, triggering fears of a global slowdown.

Stock markets, however, recovered from lows after U.S. President Donald Trump, speaking on the sidelines of the G7 summit of world leaders in France, said Chinese officials had contacted U.S. trade counterparts overnight and offered to return to the negotiating table.

"Gold prices could fall a $100 very quickly if there were a resolution not only to the trade war but to other problems that are out there," Christian said.

Data showed a modest rise in new orders for key U.S.-made capital goods in July while shipments fell by the most in nearly three years, pointing to continued weakness in business investment in the third quarter.

While monetary policy easing by central banks would be supportive for gold, "the single biggest risk to the recent gold rally would be central bank success, potentially added by fiscal stimulus or a détente in the trade dispute," a BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research note stated.

"Central Bank policy working out may in all likelihood provide a relatively more benign volatility environment, which in turn would challenge the current gold bull run."

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Friday said the U.S. central bank will "act as appropriate" to keep the economy healthy.

Other precious metals gained as well, with silver up 2.1% at $17.75 an ounce, platinum and palladium each rising about 0.5% to $858.33 and $1,467.88 respectively.

Silver touched $17.77 an ounce earlier in the session, its highest since September 2017.