Gold down as Putin comments help shares; soft data, dollar limit losses
London (Aug 14) Gold edged lower on Thursday, reacting to a tentative rebound in European shares after Russian President Vladimir Putin's comment on the Ukraine conflict, but a weaker dollar and sluggish US and European economic data limited losses.
Spot gold was down 0.2 percent at $1,309.80 an ounce by 1155 GMT, while US gold futures for December delivery were down $3.20 an ounce at $1,311.30.
"Geopolitics, a weaker dollar and softer economic data are all supportive but prices are not able to break consistently out on the upside, with $1,316-$1,320 proving a very stiff barrier that we have tested a few times in the past month or so," Societe Generale analyst Robin Bhar said. European stocks inched higher after Putin said Russians did not need conflict with the outside world.
But economic data showed the German economy suffered a surprise contraction, its first in more than a year, in the second quarter, while France slashed its growth forecasts for this year and the next after its economy failed to grow in the three months to June. In the United States, Tuesday's data showed retail sales unexpectedly stalled in July, pointing to a loss of momentum in the economy early in the third quarter. This eased some investor fears that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates sooner than expected, pushing the dollar lower and gold to daily highs in the previous session.
The dollar was down 0.1 percent against a basket of leading currencies, under some pressure from lower 10-year US Treasury yields. Markets were awaiting weekly US jobs data at 1230 GMT.
Returns on bonds are closely watched by the gold market, given that the metal pays no interest.
Gold, which was heading for a second week of gains, also benefited from data showing growth contraction in Japan and a shock fall in Chinese loans, which helped to make any tightening in monetary policy by global central banks seem a very distant prospect.
Accommodative monetary policies favour gold as low interest rates encourage investors to put money into the non-interest-bearing assets.
A nine-percent increase in the price of gold this year so far has been helped by spells of international political escalations in Ukraine, Iraq, Israel-Gaza. These have however been able to provide short-lived pushes higher.
Investors were watching developments in Ukraine, as a Russian aid convoy was advancing towards its border. Kiev and Western capitals suspect the convoy could turn into a covert military action to help pro-Russia separatists.
In the Middle East, a renewed truce between Israel and Hamas appeared to be holding on Thursday despite a shaky start, after both sides agreed to give Egyptian-brokered talks more time to try to end the Gaza war. In a reflection of investor sentiment, holdings in SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.26 tonnes to 795.60 tonnes on Wednesday.
"In the absence of notable physical demand or renewed safe haven inflows the market is set to continue its current sideways pattern at the end of this week," VTB Capital said. Silver was down 0.1 percent at $19.81 an ounce. Platinum rose 0.2 percent to $1,460.00 an ounce, while palladium gained 0.3 percent to $876.50 an ounce.