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Gold prices steady with Fed in focus, copper retreats from 11-mth peak

Published 03/20/2024, 12:47 AM
Updated 03/20/2024, 12:47 AM
© Reuters.

Investing.com-- Gold prices moved little in Asian trade on Wednesday, steadying from recent volatility as markets looked to the Federal Reserve for more cues on interest rate cuts in 2024.

Among industrial metals, copper prices pulled back sharply from recent 11-month peaks, amid a mix of profit-taking and as strength in the dollar weighed on broader metal markets.

Bullion prices remained well below record highs hit earlier in March. But they also appeared to have found support around the $2,150 an ounce level.

Spot gold hovered around $2,159.19 an ounce, while gold futures expiring in April rose 0.1% to $2,162.15 an ounce by 00:37 ET (04:37 GMT). 

Fed meeting awaited for more rate cut cues 

Metal markets were now focused squarely on the conclusion of a Fed meeting later on Wednesday, where the central bank is widely expected to keep interest rates on hold

But any signals on its plans to cut interest rates in 2024 are expected to drive the next leg of movement for gold. In particular focus will be a press conference with Fed Chair Jerome Powell after the meeting. 

The central bank could potentially sing hawkish and trim its outlook for interest rate cuts this year, especially after inflation read hotter-than-expected for the past two months.

Higher for longer rates bode poorly for gold and other precious metals. Expectations of rate cuts in 2024 were a key driver of gold’s recent rally, with any signs pointing to the otherwise heralding near-term weakness in the yellow metal and its peers.

Other precious metals also saw some consolidation this week. Platinum futures fell 0.5% to $893.50 an ounce, while silver futures steadied at $25.148 an ounce. 

Copper prices nurse steep drop from 11-mth highs

Three-month copper futures on the London Metal Exchange steadied below the closely watched $9,000 a ton level, while one-month U.S. copper futures rose 0.3% to $4.0793 a pound. 

Both instruments fell sharply from 11-month highs this week, as strength in the dollar and anticipation of the Fed spurred heavy profit-taking. An initial boost, from the prospect of tighter Chinese copper output, also appeared to have run out of steam.

Focus now turns to a string of key purchasing managers index readings from major global economies, due in the coming days, for more potential cues on copper demand.

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