Picture: 123RF/Ronnarong Thanuthattaphong
Picture: 123RF/Ronnarong Thanuthattaphong

Bengaluru — Gold prices held steady above the key $1,600 mark on Wednesday as an uptick in equities due to a drop in new virus cases was kept in check by fears about the economic fallout of the epidemic.

Autocatalyst metal palladium, meanwhile, scaled yet another record peak on a sustained supply shortfall.

Spot gold was little changed at $1,601.77/oz by 0244 GMT. In the previous session, bullion prices surged 1.3% to their highest since January 8 at $1,605.10. US gold futures were up 0.1% to $1,604.80.

Asian shares and US stock futures edged cautiously higher as investors tried to shake off worries about the epidemic.

“The big wave of risk-off has sort of dissipated right now, but still the economic fallout is buttressing the demand for gold,” Stephen Innes, chief market strategist at AxiCorp.

The increase in the number of new virus cases slowed in China’s Hubei province even as the death toll rose by 132 as of Tuesday.

The US dollar, also considered a safe haven during times of economic and political uncertainties, stayed above the more than four-month high against key rivals.

“The stronger dollar is not really curbing the inflows to gold ... from an inflation perspective, a stronger US dollar is working against the US Federal Reserve’s inflation target and is pointing towards lower interest rates,” Innes said.

Investors will closely read the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s January 28-29 policy meeting, which is due at 1900 GMT. Lower interest rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion and also weigh on the US currency.

Indicative of investor sentiment, holdings of the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust, rose 0.6% to 929.84 tonnes on Tuesday, their highest since November 11 2016.

“The short-term dynamics are very difficult to tell simply because the market is in a position where it is considerably overbought and if we get [any] positive news it could possibly trigger a downside move [in gold],” Innes said.

Palladium jumped 1.6% to $2,677.09/oz, having scaled a record high of $2,683.50 earlier in the session. Plagued by sustained supply deficit, palladium, used mainly in catalytic converters in vehicles, rose about 54% in 2019. Silver was up 0.4% to $18.24, having earlier touched a three-week peak at $18.26. Platinum also hit its highest in three weeks earlier in the session, at $1,001.67, and was up 0.8% to $1,000.02 as of 0244 GMT.  

Reuters