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Gold prices dip as dollar rebounds in anticipation of Fed minutes

Published 01/03/2024, 12:25 AM
Updated 01/03/2024, 12:25 AM
© Reuters. Gold prices fell in Asian trade on Wednesday, relinquishing a measure of recent gains as the dollar rebounded amid some uncertainty over the timing of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate cuts in 2024. 

The yellow metal saw a strong run-up in the final few trading days of 2023, amid growing optimism that the Fed will begin cutting rates by as soon as March 2024. Spot gold was still trading within $100 of a record high hit at the beginning of December. 

But markets appeared to be seeking more affirmation that the Fed will begin trimming rates early in 2024. This saw the yellow metal relinquish some recent gains, while the dollar rebounded sharply from near five-month lows on Tuesday.  

Spot gold steadied at $2,064.16 an ounce, while gold futures expiring in February fell slightly to $2,072.40 an ounce by 00:04 ET (05:04 GMT). Both instruments lost about 0.3% on Tuesday.

Fed minutes, nonfarm payrolls awaited for more cues 

Anticipation of the minutes of the Fed’s December meeting- which are due later in the day- kept markets on edge, as analysts warned that the minutes may not strike as dovish a chord as expected.

While the Fed signaled plans for rate cuts in 2024, Chair Jerome Powell provided scant cues on the timing or scale of the rate cuts. 

Several Fed officials had also pushed back against expectations for early rate cuts in the aftermath of the December meeting, given that inflation and the labor market were still running relatively hot. 

Still, the CME Fedwatch tool shows traders pricing in a nearly 70% chance of a 25 basis point rate cut in March 2024. 

Expectations of early rate cuts had driven a stellar rally in financial markets through most of December, particularly in the stock market. 

Gold had also logged a strong December rally, and may still have some more upward momentum in store. Lower interest rates bode well for the yellow metal, given that high yields push up the opportunity cost of investing in gold. 

Wednesday’s minutes also come before key nonfarm payrolls data due this Friday, which is expected to offer more cues on the labor market. A cooling labor market and softer inflation are the two main considerations for the Fed to begin trimming interest rates. 

Copper down on fresh China worries 

Among industrial metals, copper prices fell slightly on Wednesday, extending recent losses following weak economic data from top importer China. 

Copper futures expiring March fell 0.1% to $3.8652 a pound, pulling further away from a five-month high hit in late-December. Prices were also pressured by strength in the dollar.

Weakness in China was a main point of contention for copper markets, as a post-COVID economic rebound largely failed to materialize in 2023. 

Markets were also awaiting U.S. purchasing managers index data for December, which is due later on Wednesday.

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