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

Bengaluru — Gold prices rose on Monday to their highest in more than two months as heightened China-US trade tensions and Washington’s threat of tariffs on Mexico stoked the concern of a global recession and drove investors to seek refuge in safe-haven bullion.

Spot gold was up 0.5% at $1,312.37/oz at 3.08am GMT, after touching its highest since March 27 at $1,312.60.

US gold futures rose 0.5% to $1,317.50/oz.

“We are seeing a lot of traditional safe-haven hedging … coming back to the fray,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner, SPI Asset Management.

“[Equity] markets seemed to be a little bit complacent. What caught them off-guard was Trump doubled down, signalling that [dealings between countries] on the trade war front is going to be quite aggressive.”

US stock futures, Asian share markets and oil prices slipped to multi-month lows on Monday amid the mounting trade worries.

Tension between the US and China escalated during the weekend as the two countries clashed over trade, technology and security.

“[Gold] markets are underpositioned and that’s why we are seeing investors aggressively chasing prices. There are bets getting placed on a more aggressive rate cut, another reason we are seeing prices moving higher,” Innes said.

In a sign that China-US frictions are putting a big strain on the global economy, South Korea’s exports fell 9.4% in May, worse than a median forecast for a 5.6% decline, official data showed on Saturday.

The gloomy outlook has prompted traders to increase bets that the US Federal Reserve will cut interest rates sooner rather than later.

“Gold finally behaved like a safe haven last week, breaking out higher after the trade war escalation led to a code red for global growth,” Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda, said in a note.

Gold prices surpassed the key $1,300 level for the first time since April on Friday after being stuck in a nearly $20 range for weeks.

Hedge funds and money managers increased their net long positions in Comex gold in the week to May 28, data showed.

Indicating improved investor interest in gold, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose 0.32% to 743.21 tons on Friday from Thursday.

In other precious metals, silver edged up 0.6% to $14.65/oz.

Platinum rose 1% to $799.73/oz, after having fallen to its lowest level since February 15 at $784.42 last week. Palladium rose 1.7% to $1,347.10/oz.