Gold slips as signing of trade deal and US data prop up stock markets

An employee arranges gold bars for a photograph at the YLG Bullion International headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand.
Dario Pignatelli | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Gold slipped on Thursday, as the safe-haven metal was hurt by upbeat U.S. economic data that signalled a healthy economy, and as stock markets climbed on optimism brought about by the signing of the U.S.-China Phase 1 trade deal.

Spot gold fell 0.3% to $1,551.63 per ounce. U.S. gold futures were down 0.14% at $1,551.9.

"Gold is softer right now on stronger equities, and as the geopolitical front is also getting a little quiet when it comes to China and Iran issues," said Bob Haberkorn, senior market strategist at RJO Futures.

World stocks held near record highs, while the dollar index erased earlier losses after multiple data releases painted a positive U.S. economic picture.

U.S. retail sales rose for a third straight month in December and a U.S. Mid-Atlantic manufacturing activity gauge revived to its highest in eight months.

U.S. holiday sales rose 4.1% in 2019 from a year earlier, as steady wage and jobs growth encouraged shoppers to splurge on groceries, beverages and furniture, the National Retail Federation said.

The much-awaited Phase 1 trade deal was signed by U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He on Wednesday, defusing an 18-month-long row that roiled global markets.

Analysts noted the deal fails to address structural economic issues, does not fully eliminate the tariffs, and sets hard-to-achieve purchase targets, leaving a number of sore spots unresolved.

Elsewhere, palladium gained 1% to $2,285.18 an ounce, after hitting a record peak of $2,395.14 earlier in the session.

"It's such a small, tight market that when someone takes a big lump of supply out in the short term the market can become completely ruptured", said Tai Wong, head of base and precious metals derivatives trading at BMO.

"I'd be surprised if we don't see a correction sometime in the next week or so."

Platinum dipped 1.6% to $1,004.02, having hit its highest since February 2017 at $1,041.05.

Both platinum and palladium are primarily used by automakers for catalytic converter manufacturing to clean car exhaust fumes.

Silver fell 0.2% to $17.95 per ounce.