Gold Refinery gold shavings. Picture: AFP PHOTO/OZAN KOSE
Gold Refinery gold shavings. Picture: AFP PHOTO/OZAN KOSE

Bengaluru — Gold held steady near a two-week high on Wednesday as world equities retreated after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut its global growth outlook ahead of the release of minutes from the US Federal Reserve’s March meeting.

Spot gold was unchanged at $1,303.73 an ounce at 11.45am GMT, having touched its highest since March 28 on Tuesday at $1,306.09. US gold futures were flat at $1,307.80.

“[Gold] seems to be very much stuck at the moment ... part of the issue is most of the developments haven’t really been much of a surprise to the market,” said Capital Economics analyst Ross Strachan, adding that the growth downgrade by the IMF was also widely anticipated.

Gold was also supported by central bank purchases and a significant move lower in US equity markets will boost prices, Strachan said.

The IMF had said on Tuesday that the global economy is slowing more than expected and a sharp downturn could require world leaders to co-ordinate stimulus measures. Central banks around the world are increasing their gold stockpiles, with China raising its reserves for a fourth straight month in March.

Gold is widely viewed as a safe investment during times of political and economic uncertainty.

A recent rally in global shares stalled as US President Donald Trump threatened more tariffs against the EU, though the prospect of stimulus measures from the European Central Bank (ECB) kept them from falling too far.

“The dollar is not doing too much at the moment ... that has sort of reduced volatility in gold prices in the short term. But the longer term outlook is fairly constructive for gold,” said ING analyst Warren Patterson. Gold is likely to move into the $1,350 to $1,380 range towards the second half of the year, Patterson added.

The ECB kept its ultra-easy monetary policy unchanged, as expected, giving recent stimulus measures time to work their way into the economy and counter spreading global gloom.

Investors now await the release of the US Fed open market committee’s minutes from its March meeting due later on Wednesday.

Holdings in the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded (ETF) fund, SPDR Gold Trust, fell for the seventh consecutive session on Tuesday and are at their lowest level since November.

In other metals, spot platinum rose 0.6% to $891.88 an ounce. On Monday it touched its highest since last May at $914.74.  Palladium lost 0.5% to $1,382.20, while silver firmed by 0.4% to $15.26.