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Futures & Commodities

Gold eases as investors book profits, dollar firms

A worker holds a gold bar in the Austrian Mint (Muenze Oesterreich) headquarters in Vienna.
Leonhard Foeger | Reuters

Gold eased on Wednesday on a stronger dollar and as investors locked profits following the more than 1% jump in the last session, but uncertainty over U.S.-China trade and the global economy kept safe-haven bullion near a multi-year peak.

Spot gold fell 0.4% to $1,536.83 per ounce. On Monday it touched $1,554.56, its highest since April 2013. U.S. gold futures fell $2.70 to settle at $1,549.10 per ounce.

"We aren't seeing any additional tensions. A lot of the news - the trade war and economic concerns - has been factored in by the market over the last few days," said David Meger, director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures, adding profit-taking following the rally in response to a firmer dollar was weighing on gold.

The dollar rose 0.2%, making gold more expensive for holders of other currencies, while U.S. stock markets moved into positive territory.

However, sentiment in wider markets remained fragile due to a sharper inversion in the U.S. Treasury yield curve, signaling a possible recession, and the lack of clarity on the U.S.-China trade front, which kept interest for safe havens intact.

"I do not see this (drop in gold prices) lasting for long as traders seem to be trying to buy dips in the precious metals right now and with the yield curve and the U.S. Federal Reserve's (current stance), expect that dip to be bought up fairly quickly," said Bob Haberkorn, senior market strategist at RJO Futures.

Lower interest rates decrease the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion and weigh on the dollar, making gold cheaper for investors holding other currencies.

Federal funds futures implied traders saw a 91% chance of a 25 basis point rate cut by the U.S. central bank next month, and a 100 basis point cut within 2020.

Markets also kept a close eye on Britain's planned exit from the European Union, with concerns of a hard Brexit heightened after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson dissolved the Parliament.

Elsewhere, spot silver rose 0.7% to $18.29 per ounce, hitting its highest level since April 2017 earlier.

"There is not much at present to suggest that the demand for gold and silver might abate," Commerzbank analysts wrote in a note.