Bengaluru — Gold prices held steady on Friday as doubts prevailed over an interim trade deal being reached between the US and China in 2019.

Spot gold was little changed at $1,464.36/oz by 3.17am GMT. US gold futures were up 0.1% to $1,464.60/oz.

China invited top US trade negotiators for a new round of face-to-face talks in Beijing in efforts to strike a deal, after reports that a “phase one” trade deal may not be inked this year.

“The trade deal is definitely the theme at the moment as it looks like the US Federal Reserve’s easing is on hold, so anything positive about the trade dispute is clearly negative for gold and any delay is positive,” said Nicholas Frappell, global general manager at ABC Bullion.

The Fed has cut interest rates three times this year to help shield the economy from the effects of the trade war with China before deciding to pause. Lower interest rates reduce the opportunity cost for holding the non-yielding bullion.

The tariff war between the world’s top two economies have propelled gold, traditionally a safe asset in times of political and economic uncertainty, about 14% higher in 2019, on track for its biggest yearly gain since 2010.

Investors, however, were wary that bills passed by Washington supporting the Hong Kong protesters could thwart a smooth passage of an interim trade deal.

“Although Hong Kong is such an important city, the protests itself are not a problem. It’s more about how it impacts the US-China relations and it’s already been discussed between both the countries,” Frappell said.

Antigovernment protests in Hong Kong have paralysed the Asian financial hub for months. Weighing on bullion, Asian equities rose, but gains were capped by trade worries, while the dollar held overnight gains. US data on Thursday showed weekly jobless claims unchanged, while manufacturers reported a sharp slowdown, suggesting some weakness.

Elsewhere, platinum dipped 0.9% to $906/oz, but was on track to rise by about 2% for the week. A surge in investment buying will push the global platinum market into a small deficit this year, the World Platinum Investment Council said.

Silver lost 0.1% to $17.07/oz and palladium was down 0.1% to $1,758.62/oz, but was set to post its best week in five, gaining 3%.