Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Gold edges higher as Asian stocks retreat, oil extends rout

Gold edged higher on Wednesday as a further fall in equities and oil burnished bullion’s safe-haven draw, although slow physical demand from Asia kept the metal well under this month’s peak.

Asian stocks slid to a four-year trough as US crude oil plumbed a fresh 2003 low, underlining worries about the global economy. The dollar also retreated.

The International Monetary Fund has cut its global growth forecast for the third time in less than a year after China’s economy grew at its slowest rate in a quarter of a century in 2015.

Spot gold was up 0.4 per cent at $1,091.36 an ounce by 0630 GMT.

US gold for February delivery gained 0.2 per cent to $1,091.70 an ounce.

“Gold’s safe haven rationale is back in vogue,’’ Citigroup analysts said in their 2016 commodities outlook, amid fears over the Chinese economy, weak equity markets and geopolitical tensions in the Arabian Gulf.

“While geopolitical issues typically tend to be short-lived in terms of lending support to gold prices, we expect ongoing global macro concerns to lend support this quarter, added by a modestly more benign US dollar outlook,’’ they said.

Gold scaled a two-month high of $1,112 an ounce on January 8 and has traded below that level since, facing resistance at around $1,090 that some analysts attribute to slow Asian physical buying.

Demand for gold in China, the world’s biggest consumer, is seen dented by an economy that could slow further. Nomura expects the world's second-largest economy to grow at 5.8 per cent this year against 6.9 per cent in 2015.

There is a modest premium to world gold prices in China, and prices in India, the second-largest gold consumer, are at a discount to the global benchmark, wrote HSBC analyst James Steel.

But Steel said the ability of gold to cut the bulk of losses, persistent risk-off sentiment and a revival in the euro suggest further price gains.

“The $1,100/oz is a stiff resistance level, however, and while we believe it will be overcome, it may take some time,’’ he said.

Spot silver was flat at $14.015 an ounce and palladium slipped 0.7 per cent to $488.61. Platinum, which touched a seven-year low of $812.95 an ounce on Monday, dropped 0.6 per cent to $818.50.

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