Gold steady as investors bet on more stimulus-led inflation

Gold bullion bars are pictured after being inspected and polished at the ABC Refinery in Sydney on August 5, 2020.
DAVID GRAY | AFP | Getty Images

Gold prices held steady on Wednesday, underpinned by data showing a rise in consumer prices in the United States and expectations that more fiscal stimulus from a Joe Biden administration could trigger higher inflation.

Spot gold was little changed at $1,854.84 an ounce. U.S. gold futures settled up 0.6% at $1,854.90.

Bob Haberkorn, senior market strategist at RJO Futures, said expectations for more stimulus, higher-than-expected inflation and safe-haven buying driven by the political environment in the United States were keeping gold supported.
The Labor Department on Wednesday said its consumer price index increased 0.4% last month after gaining 0.2% in November.

"It shows that there's a slight uptick in inflation, which is always supportive of gold," Haberkorn said.

But capping bullion's gains, the dollar firmed and benchmark 10-year Treasury yields hovered close to their highest level in nearly 10 months.

Gold is generally considered a hedge against the inflation and currency debasement that can result from widespread stimulus. However, higher bond yields have challenged that status recently as they increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

"Complacent positioning in gold is being shaken up, that's a direct result of the blue sweep which forced the markets to price in a substantial increase in treasury supply," said Daniel Ghali, commodity strategist at TD Securities.

U.S. President-elect Biden said he would unveil a plan on Thursday to provide trillions of dollars of support for the American economy as it grapples with the coronavirus crisis.

Meanwhile, exchange-traded funds storing gold for investors shrank for a second month in December, but nevertheless grew more than ever before in 2020, the World Gold Council said.

Among other precious metals, silver fell 0.5% to $25.45 an ounce, platinum rose 2.2% to $1,099.55 and palladium edged 0.2% higher to $2,396.71.