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Gold prices edged down and posted modest losses at the close of Tuesday’s U.S. trading session, after data revealed both consumer prices and existing home sales are on the rise in the U.S., which fueled speculation among some that the Federal Reserve is edging closer to a hike in interests rates.
 
The National Association of Realtors reported earlier that existing U.S. home sales rose 2.6% to 5.04 million units in June from 4.91 million in May, beating market forecasts for a 2.0% rise to 4.97 million units.
 
Separately, the U.S. Department of Labor said earlier that consumer prices rose by 0.3% last month, meeting analysts’ prior estimates, after rising 0.4% in May. In the 12 months through June, the CPI increased 2.1 percent after a similar rise in May.
 
Tuesday’s data points to an underlying trend that remains consistent with a gradual build-up of inflationary pressures, and the steady increases have led some economists to predict that the U.S. Central Bank is edging closer to hiking its Federal Funds Rate.
 
In testimony last week before the Senate Banking Committee, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen indicated that interest rates may rise sooner if the economy continues to improve; however, the Chairwoman specifically tied comments related to the matter to conditions in the U.S. labor market.
 
An assessment of the U.S. economy by conditions exclusively in the U.S. labor market hint at continued challenges ahead for Federal Reserve policymakers. June’s official government non-farm payrolls report revealed that wages had remained mostly stagnant, and sharp increases in part-time jobs masked significant losses of full-time employment.
 
The significance of continued challenges in the labor market in conjunction with a steady rise in the CPI is not lost on those investors who fear the U.S. could be headed for a repeat of the stagflation episode of the 1970s and early 1980s – a period when inflation averaged 8% per year and at times surpassed 10%.
 
Meanwhile Tuesday, traders continued to monitor developments related to tensions in Ukraine and the Middle East, which have buoyed gold and silver prices since last week amid a sharp increase in safe-haven demand.
 
Earlier Tuesday, market sentiment improved somewhat after pro-Russian rebel leader Aleksander Borodai handed over the black boxes of the Malaysian passenger plane that was shot down last week to Malaysian investigators.
 
On Monday, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution calling for an international probe into the incident and unimpeded access to the crash site.
 
Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers are preparing to discuss another round of sanctions against Russia in response to continued aggression and violation against Ukraine's sovereignty.
 
Elsewhere, the U.S. stepped up efforts to secure a ceasefire in the Gaza strip, as fighting between Israeli security forces and Hamas militants continued Monday. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and United Nations chief Ban Ki Moon are in Cairo to participate in talks aimed at stopping the bloodshed.
 
Geopolitical risk has been the primary driver that held gold above the $1,300 per ounce level in recent weeks. Although this can ultimately lead to volatile swings in the market as day-to-day developments sway market sentiment, the probable impact of geopolitical risk on the fragile U.S. economic recovery is a more enduring support factor. 
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The VAULT

This week on The Vault: Brian reviews gold's arguably lackluster response to this week's market drivers and warns investors against becoming overly apathetic in their approach to their retirement portfolio. Plus, Mike Getlin, CEO of Merit Gold joins Brian t...

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Gold Standard with Brian Baker

On today's show, Brian recaps Tuesday's gold market, offering insight on conflicting opinions about when the Fed will hike rates, challenges in the labor market, and the impact of geopolitical risk on gold prices beyond the short-term. Plus, Brian shares hi...

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