A salesperson is seen at his gold shop in Gold Souq in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Picture: REUTERS/HAMAD I MOHAMMED
A salesperson is seen at his gold shop in Gold Souq in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Picture: REUTERS/HAMAD I MOHAMMED

Bengaluru — Gold held steady on Tuesday as bets on a pause in US interest rate hikes and hope of a China-US trade deal put pressure on the dollar, but an improved risk appetite capped gains for the safe-haven metal.

Spot gold was little changed at $1,287.70 by 1.48am GMT. It hit a more than six-month peak at $1,298.42 on Friday.

US gold futures eased slightly at $1,288/oz.

“A weakening dollar and falling US treasury yields should keep gold pushing higher,” said INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir.

“Gold still has some room to move higher as the dollar is weakening and that would be an offset to stabilizing stocks,” Meir said, adding if prices move above $1,300, it would reassure investors to add more long positions.

The dollar index stood near two-and-a-half-month lows as investors grew increasingly convinced that the Federal Reserve will not raise interest rates in 2019 amid uncertainties over the US economy.

On Friday, US central bank chief Jerome Powell told the American Economic Association that the Fed was not on a preset path of rate hikes and it would be sensitive to the downside risks markets were pricing in.

The 10-year US treasuries yields are down more than 50 basis points from its October peak of 3.261%.

Lower treasury yields can translate into less demand for the dollar since the currency is used to buy bonds, a traditional safe haven.

Gold gains when expectations of interest rate hikes ease because lower rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding nonyielding bullion and weigh on the dollar, in which it is priced.

Meanwhile, US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross predicted on Monday that Beijing and Washington could reach a trade deal that “we can live with” as officials resumed talks.

Asian shares extended gains for a third day on Tuesday.

“Even with equity markets stabilising, gold has held a bid suggesting that there's sovereign buying in the background,” said Stephen Innes, Asia-Pacific trading head at Oanda.

India raised its gold holdings in November, while China gold reserves rose to 59.56-million fine troy ounces at end-December, two separate data showed on Monday.

Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, saw some outflows on Friday. But, holdings are still at their highest since August 2018, underpinning demand for the safe-haven metal.

Silver edged 0.1% lower to $15.63/ox.

Palladium slipped 0.1% to $1,298.49/oz, but was still in the vicinity of the record high of $1,313.24 touched in the previous session. The metal was trading at a premium to gold.

Platinum rose 0.2% to $823.50, having touched highest in more than a month at $831.10 on Monday.