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Gold prices recovered above $1,300 per ounce in late-afternoon trading Tuesday, but still posted a loss at the close of today’s U.S. session. The metal came under pressure despite U.S. inflation data beating forecasts, while sentiments that recent expectations for U.S. monetary policy to be reigned in sooner than expected further weighed on prices.
The Labor Department reported earlier that the U.S. consumer price index rose 0.2% in March, exceeding expectations for a 0.1% gain, after a 0.1% uptick the previous month. The on-year rate rose 1.5% in March, beating estimates for a 1.4% gain, and while still below the Fed's 2% target, the numbers fueled a selloff in the gold market.
The core consumer price index, which excludes food and energy items, rose 0.2% in March.
A separate report showed that the Empire State manufacturing index fell to 1.3 for April from 5.6 in March, defying expectations for a rise to 8.2.
Exacerbating today’s selloff were sentiments that traders overreacted to the dovish minutes from the Fed's March policy meeting released last week. In the minutes, the Fed eliminated the 6.5% trigger at which it was previously set to hike interest rates.
Investors viewed Tuesday's data as enough to justify the Federal Reserve continuing to dismantle its monthly asset-purchasing program.
Weak physical demand in China also weighed on gold prices Tuesday, with Shanghai prices trading at a discount of about $1 an ounce to spot prices. Chinese firms may have locked up as much as 1,000 tons of gold in financing deals, according to a report from the World Gold Council, indicating that a majority of imports had been used to raise funds due to China's tight credit conditions rather than to meet consumer demand.
Tuesday’s pullback for gold came even as Ukrainian armed forces launched a 'special operation' against militiamen in the country's Russian-speaking east. Traders said the premium of geopolitical tensions had already been priced in the gold market.
“It is a case of once bitten twice shy,” said Chintan Karnani, chief market analyst at Insignia Consultants to Marketwatch. Traders had gone long Monday on Ukraine but gold fell Tuesday, he said. “Now they are extra cautious going long. The rise (if any) will be slow and steady unlike the fall which was quite fast.”
Adam Koos, president and portfolio manager of Libertas Wealth Management Group, said he believes the “supply/demand equation is the primary driver with the ancillary issue being the dollar and “investors are ‘bored’ with the Ukraine.”
“It’ll probably take more ruthless news to see a significant reaction that would result in a flee to gold for safety,” he said.
Still, “the fact that gold has found itself bouncing around in the same old range is more positive than negative,” he said. “The more time that passes, the more the metal consolidates, the stronger the commodity gets (on a relative basis), and the higher the probability of near-term growth.”
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