Futures & Commodities

Gold heads for fourth monthly gain on slowdown, trade worries

Ilya Naymushin | Reuters

Gold prices fell on Friday on a slight recovery in equities markets and Treasury yields but was on track for a fourth-straight monthly gain as fears of a global recession and uncertainty on U.S.-China trade relations drove investors to safe havens.

Spot gold fell 0.5% to $1,520.40 per ounce and has gained 7.4% so far this month. U.S. gold futures settled down 0.5% at $1,529.40.

The market is awaiting news on the trade front, said Suki Cooper, precious metals analyst at Standard Chartered Bank.

"At the moment, gold market is focused on impact in terms of global growth and whether we'll continue to see central banks around the world easing monetary policy," Cooper added.

Chinese and U.S. trade negotiating teams are maintaining effective communication, a day after both sides discussed the next round of in-person negotiations in September, China's foreign ministry said on Friday.

On Thursday, China's commerce ministry said a September round of meetings was being discussed by the two sides, but added it was important for Washington to cancel a tariff increase.

Positive signs on the trade front also lifted world stocks to a one-week high, limiting bullion's upside.

"Gold will have a very high beta to any reduction in trade tensions given that they have driven so much of its rally," OANDA analyst Jeffrey Halley wrote in a note.

Escalation in the trade war between the world's biggest economies and heightened fears over a global downturn contributed to a rise of more than $100 for gold in August.

A recent inversion of the U.S. yield curve, where short-dated yields are running above long-dated ones, has also unsettled investors as it often precedes a recession.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central bank are widely expected to cut rates next month to stimulate their economies.

Elsewhere, silver fell 0.2% to $18.21 per ounce, on track for its biggest monthly percentage gain since June 2016, gaining 12% so far in August.

"Silver will be volatile going forward and is more likely to come under pressure when we see prices rising given that the industrial picture looks a little bit weak going forward," Standard Chartered's Cooper said.

Meanwhile, consumers in top Asian hubs sold physical gold holdings this week to cash in on high prices, with many opting for cheaper silver.

Spot platinum rose 1.3% to $928.05 per ounce, after hitting a near 16-month high, while palladium jumped 4.1% to $1,535.45 per ounce after hitting a one-month peak of $1,504.71 earlier.