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March 2, 2024
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Gold prices steady amid rate-cut uncertainty; Copper cools from China gains By Investing.com

© Reuters.

Investing.com– Gold prices edged lower in Asian trade on Wednesday, sticking to a trading range established over the past week as markets grew more uncertain over U.S. interest rate cuts this year.

Among industrial metals, copper prices inched lower after increased optimism over China drove stellar gains earlier this week.

Gold was reeling from a weak start to 2024, having fallen as low as $2,000 an ounce earlier this month as traders began steadily pricing out bets that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates as soon as March 2024.

But the yellow metal rebounded on some safe-haven demand, especially as geopolitical conditions in the Middle East worsened. This rebound also saw gold establish a trading range of between $2,000 to about $2,050 an ounce over the past week.

fell 0.3% to $2,023.92 an ounce, while expiring in February fell 0.1% to $2,024.65 an ounce by 00:17 ET (05:17 GMT).

Strength in the – which traded near six-week highs on Wednesday- also weighed on gold prices.

US economic data, Fed meeting awaited

Metal markets were now seeking more cues on when the Fed could potentially begin trimming interest rates this year.

Fourth-quarter data due on Thursday is expected to show some cooling in U.S. economic growth, while data- the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge- is due on Friday and is expected to reiterate that inflation remained sticky in December.

The data comes just days before the , where the central bank is widely expected to keep rates on hold. But any cues on planned rate cuts will be in close focus.

While gold prices are expected to eventually benefit from lower interest rates this year, they will likely see a muted performance in the near-term, especially if the Fed keeps rates higher for longer.

High interest rates push up the opportunity cost of investing in gold, which dampens the yellow metal’s appeal. But gold still managed to eke out an about 10% gain in 2023, having benefited from safe-haven demand after the breakout of the Israel-Hamas war.

A continued escalation in the conflict- which appeared to have spilled over into the Red Sea, between U.S.-led forces and the Iran-aligned Houthi group, still fed some demand for traditional safe haven assets.

Copper prices edge lower after China-driven gains

expiring in March fell 0.2% to $3.7983 a pound, but were trading up 0.3% this week.

Reports of more planned stimulus measures in China helped copper prices rebound sharply from a near two-month low this week, amid growing hopes for an economic recovery in the world’s largest copper importer.

Still, copper was also nursing a weak start to 2024, as a swathe of economic readings for December showed little improvement in Chinese economic growth. Fears of slowing Chinese demand were a key weight on copper prices over the past two years.

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