OUT OF STEAM: Gold is off to its best start in six years but prices are expected to fall. Picture: BLOOMBERG
OUT OF STEAM: Gold is off to its best start in six years but prices are expected to fall. Picture: BLOOMBERG

London — Gold edged higher on Monday as the dollar fell, but gains were muted as financial markets bet that air strikes on Syria would not escalate into a wider conflict.

Prices have trended sideways since January, buoyed by geopolitical worries but capped by expectations for further US interest rate hikes and strong technical resistance at $1,360-$1,365 an ounce — their January, February and April highs.

Spot gold was at $1,346.91/oz at 1335 GMT, up 0.1%, while US gold futures were 0.2% higher at $1,350.10/oz. Forces from the US, Britain and France targeted Syria with air strikes on Saturday, hitting what they said were three of its main chemical weapons facilities.

Gold prices reached an early high of $1,348.69 on the back of the news, but struggled to maintain those gains on expectations the attacks would not mark the start of greater Western involvement in the conflict.

"Some of the risk (premium) has come down following the air strikes," Capital Economics analyst Simona Gambarini said. "Some market participants were thinking that maybe there could be an escalation of the tensions, but that has not happened and therefore prices have come down a bit.

"If you consider that the Fed is tightening we should see lower gold prices. Instead, they have been moving sideways," she said. "There is certainly some risk premium incorporated into prices … but there is no trigger for higher prices at the moment."

Supporting gold in the near term, the dollar sank 0.5% against the euro, reaching its lows for the day as Wall Street stocks opened higher.

Speculators raised their net long positions in Comex gold contracts by 363 contracts to 138,212 contracts in the week to April 10, US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data showed on Friday.

Dealers trimmed their short positions in silver by 3,187 contracts to 36,417 contracts, the CFTC data showed.

Silver was up 0.6% at $16.72/oz, while platinum was 0.3% higher at $929.80/oz. Palladium was 1.8% higher at $1,005.30/oz, off an earlier near seven-week high of $1,007.70.

Prices rose 9.6% last week, their biggest weekly gain in more than a year, as concerns that supply from number one producer Russia could be disrupted by US sanctions fed into a strong technical rebound following the metal’s 20% fall from its January record high.

"More than two-fifths (of) global supply originates from Russia, and while Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest palladium producer, has not been subject to sanctions, unsettled traders have loaded up on the metal," SP Angel said in a note.

Reuters