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Gold prices at 3-mth high on Middle East tensions, mixed Fed cues


Investing.com-- Gold prices rose to a three-month high on Friday amid persistent safe haven demand on concerns over the Israel-Hamas war, while somewhat mixed signals on U.S. interest rates also stalled a rally in the dollar and Treasury yields.

The yellow metal was set for a second straight week of strong gains, with gold futures coming close to the $2,000 an ounce level as fears of a broader conflict in the Middle East fueled demand for traditional safe havens.

Gold was encouraged by some overnight weakness in the dollar and Treasury yields, as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said that the recent spike in yields was tightening financial conditions, potentially lessening the need for more action by the Fed.

While Powell still left the door open for at least one more hike this year, markets took his comments as a sign that the Fed was done with raising interest rates. This spurred some profit taking in the dollar, while yields also came off multi-year highs, although the 10-year rate still remained close to the 5% level.

Still, softer yields and a weaker dollar helped push up gold prices, as did increased safe haven demand amid uncertainty over the Israel-Hamas war. Markets are watching for a planned ground assault on the Gaza strip by Israeli forces, which could mark an escalation in the conflict.

Spot gold rose 0.1% to $1,977.14 an ounce, while gold futures expiring in December rose 0.4% to $1,989.05 an ounce by 00:53 ET (04:53 GMT). Both instruments were up nearly 2.5% this week, after surging over 5% in the prior week.

But with Powell still leaving the door open for more rate hikes, a rally in the yellow metal could be limited, especially if more economic indicators point to resilience in the U.S. economy and sticky inflation.

Curbing inflation is still the Fed’s main goal, and while inflation has retreated substantially over the past year, it still remains well above the central bank’s 2% target.

U.S. rates are set to remain higher for longer, potentially above 5% until at least end-2024, heralding continued pressure on non-yielding assets such as gold.

Copper weak as China jitters persist

Among industrial metals, copper prices fell further on Friday and were down for a third straight week amid persistent concerns over major importer China.

Copper futures fell 0.5% to $3.5680 a pound, and were down 0.1% this week.

While better-than-expected gross domestic product data from China offered some support to copper this week, the trend was largely offset by persistent concerns over China’s property sector, especially amid signs that developer Country Garden Holdings (HK:2007) had defaulted on its offshore bonds.

China’s central bank also kept its loan prime rate at record lows on Friday, as it seeks to strike a balance between fostering economic growth and stemming weakness in the yuan.

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