Gold prices were little changed overnight, but held close to a near eight-year peak scaled last week, as the accelerating spread of the coronavirus threatened to derail hopes of an economic recovery.

Spot gold eased 0.1 per cent to $US1,769.52 per ounce by 1742 GMT, but only $US9.54 shy of its highest since October 2012 hit last Wednesday.

Prices are also on track for the third straight monthly gain and the biggest quarterly rise in over four years.

US gold futures settled 0.1 per cent up to $US1,781.20.

“The uptick in coronavirus cases right now across most parts of the United States has got the markets on edge right now, supporting gold,” Bob Haberkorn, senior market strategist at RJO Futures.

“There’s been a flight to safety into gold since last week… But at the moment, traders are waiting to see how equities perform” and if equities do sell off later, gold should move higher.

Weighing on gold, was a steady dollar and gains in Wall Street as investors pinned hopes on more stimulus even as global coronavirus cases continued to mount.

Infections have soared in the United States, with California ordering bars to close and Washington state pausing plans for re-opening the economy.

However, Stephen Innes, chief market strategist at financial services firm AxiCorp said a lack of inflation posed a difficult question for the gold rally.

“Given inflation is headed lower in both the short- and medium-term, gold needs (real bond) yields to continue to fall this year.”

SPDR Gold Trust holdings rose 0.3 per cent to 1,178.90 tonnes on Friday, while speculators increased their bullish positions in COMEX gold and silver contracts in the week to June 23.

Palladium rose 2.5 per cent to $US1,906.15 per ounce, while platinum gained 2.1 per cent to $US807.39 and silver was up by 0.1 per cent to $US17.77.

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