Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Bengaluru — Gold prices were little changed on Wednesday amid a cautious mood as investors awaited cues on the US central bank’s stance on monetary easing, while a drop in crude prices dented demand for safe-haven bullion.

Saudi Arabia sought to reassure markets after the attack on Saturday halved its oil output, saying that full production would be restored by the end of September.

A risk-on sentiment in the market affects demand for bullion, often seen as an alternative investment during times of political and financial uncertainty.

Spot gold was barely changed at $1,502.70/oz, as of 4.25am GMT. US gold futures were trading 0.2% lower at $1,510.70/oz.

“If oil prices remain high, there would be inflation risks. Now oil prices have come off because they [Saudi Arabia] said they could restore production. Therefore, there is not such a inflation risk as before,” said Helen Lau, analyst at Argonaut Securities.

However, investors are concerned this news could dissuade the US Federal Reserve from further cutting interest rates, a negative for non-interest-yielding gold, she added.

Gold is considered a hedge against inflation.

Economists and analysts widely expect the Fed to cut its benchmark rate for a second time in 2019 to counter risks posed by the US-China trade war.

The chaotic moves in money markets and late-day swings in US federal funds futures mean the CME’s tool shows about a 62% chance the Fed will cut rates by 25 basis points on Wednesday.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.13%, while the dollar against a basket of other currencies was little changed at 98.28.

“The US administration continues to have a problem, they want Iran to take responsibility. That is why gold prices are holding up quite well,” Lau added.

Spot gold remains neutral in a range of $1,488-$1,523.61/oz, and an escape could suggest a direction, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Also in focus is the Bank of Japan’s policy meeting due on Thursday, where the central bank is expected to ease its policy in 2019.

Among other precious metals, platinum dropped 0.6% to $937.62/oz, while silver eased 0.4% to $17.95/oz.

Palladium dipped 0.4% to $1,590.65, on track for a fourth straight session of decline.