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Gold Stalls as Investors Eye Key Events

Market jitters ahead of Fed meeting, US jobs data

by Victor Adetimilehin

The price of gold is in a holding pattern as investors cautiously wait for two key events this week that could significantly influence its trajectory. The upcoming Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting and the release of crucial US jobs data are in the spotlight for market participants.

Fed Likely to Maintain Hawkish Tone

Financial experts widely anticipate that policymakers at the Federal Reserve will reiterate their commitment to keeping interest rates elevated for an extended period when their two-day meeting concludes on Wednesday. This hawkish stance comes amid concerns about persistent inflation and a robust labor market.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell foreshadowed a similar approach in his most recent public address. He highlighted the lack of significant progress in taming inflation and the continued strength in the job market, suggesting the need for the Fed to maintain its tightening grip on monetary policy.

The release of the US non-farm payrolls data on Friday is another critical factor for gold investors. A strong jobs report could solidify the Fed’s resolve to maintain high-interest rates, potentially putting downward pressure on gold prices. Conversely, a weaker-than-expected report could raise hopes for an earlier pivot toward rate cuts, potentially benefiting gold.

Shifting Expectations for Rate Cuts

With inflation, as measured by the Fed’s preferred gauge, rising at a brisk pace in March, expectations for interest rate cuts have undergone a dramatic shift. Swap traders now anticipate only one rate cut from the Fed this year, a significant decrease from the roughly six cuts projected earlier in 2024.

Higher interest rates generally pose a challenge for gold, as the precious metal doesn’t offer any interest income. However, some analysts believe that the potential for rate cuts later in the year could still provide some support for gold prices.

Daniel Ghali, a commodity strategist at TD Securities, suggests that the headwinds from interest rate expectations on gold prices may be diminishing. He observes that “markets have already priced in” a delay in rate cuts. Additionally, he highlights the increasing buying interest from Shanghai gold traders, which could provide upward pressure on prices.

Another potential tailwind for gold could emerge from a weakening US dollar. The recent surge in the Japanese yen, fueled by speculation of government intervention to support the currency, could lead to a broader depreciation of the dollar. A weaker dollar historically tends to benefit gold, as it makes the metal more affordable for buyers using other currencies.

Gold Prices Remain Elevated Despite Fed Outlook

Despite the pushback on expectations for near-term rate cuts, the price of gold has climbed more than 13% so far in 2024, even reaching a record high earlier this month. This ascent is attributed to a combination of factors, including central bank purchases, strong demand from Asian markets, particularly China, and ongoing geopolitical tensions.

As of Tuesday afternoon, spot gold prices hovered around $2,338 per ounce. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index also retreated slightly after two consecutive weeks of gains. Silver, palladium, and platinum prices all experienced modest increases.

The price of gold is currently in a wait-and-see mode as investors cautiously navigate the upcoming events. The outcome of the FOMC meeting and the US jobs report will likely provide clearer direction for the gold market in the coming days. If the Fed maintains its hawkish stance and the jobs report indicates continued strength in the labor market, gold prices could face downward pressure. However, if the Fed signals a potential shift towards a more dovish policy stance or the jobs report disappoints, gold could regain some upward momentum.

Investors are also closely monitoring developments in Asia and the broader currency markets. Increased buying interest from Asian markets and a weakening US dollar could provide additional support for gold prices.

In the coming days, all eyes will be on the FOMC meeting and the US jobs report. These events will likely be the key determinants of the near-term trajectory for the gold market.

Source: Mining.com

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