Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Bengaluru — Gold firmed slightly on Wednesday as investors held onto the safe-haven metal while seeking more clarity on China-US trade talks, and as volatility in the dollar provided further support.

Spot gold was up 0.2% at $1,312.82/oz as of 4.19am GMT, while US gold futures gained 0.2% to $1,316.2/oz.

US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he could see letting the March 1 deadline for reaching a trade agreement with Beijing slide a little if the two sides were close to hammering out a deal to end their long-drawn trade tussle.

US tariffs on $200bn worth of imports from China are scheduled to rise to 25% from 10% if the two sides cannot reach a deal by the deadline, increasing pain and costs in sectors from consumer electronics to agriculture.

“There is very little detail behind some of those [Trump’s] comments.… There has been nothing really strong enough to drive any strong conviction [for investors],” said ANZ analyst Daniel Hynes.

However, improved risk appetite limited bullion's gains, with Asian stocks edging higher to a more than four-month peak.

“The safe-haven buying that we saw earlier in the month is now a little more fragile [after recent developments in trade talks],” Hynes said.

The dollar index, however, suffered against its Asian peers, and was marginally lower at 96.68. It shed about 0.4% in the previous session in its worst one-day loss in two weeks.

“Any progress in the talks would likely weaken the dollar and elevate gold slightly from here,” said INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir.

Investors were also worried after Trump said on Tuesday he was unhappy with a deal struck by congressional negotiators on border security that denied him funds for his US-Mexican border wall.

Nevertheless, Trump said he did not expect another shutdown, while continuing to insist he could find a way to bypass Congress and build a wall without lawmakers.

Meanwhile, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.4% on Tuesday. Holdings are down about 3% so far this month after four consecutive monthly gains.

ANZ’s Hynes said January saw pretty good flows. “Some of those investors take profits and subsequently extract some of those holdings. I don't see it becoming a longer trade trend,” he said.

Spot Palladium rose 0.5% to $1,410.50/oz, after gaining 1.3% in the previous session — its best since January 25.

Platinum was unchanged at $786.50/oz.

Meanwhile, silver fell 0.1% to $15.69.