Gold rises to five-week high on trade war, geopolitical woes

Gold prices rose to a five-week high on Monday as the threat of a trade war between the United States and China weighed on the dollar and equity markets, driving investors to seek refuge in safe-haven assets.

Spot gold rose 0.1 per cent to $ 1,348.66 per ounce at 0419 GMT. Price rose to as much as $ 1,350.76 per ounce, the highest since Feb. 19.

Gold rose 2.6 per cent last week, its biggest weekly gain since September 2017.

US gold futures for April delivery fell 0.1 per cent to $ 1,348.80 per ounce.

Fears of a trade war between the US and China battered Asian shares again on Monday, keeping the safe-haven yen near a 16-month peak. The dollar index , which measures the greenback against six major currencies, was down 0.1 per cent at 89.39.

Last week US President Donald Trump signed a memorandum that could impose tariffs on up to $ 60 billion of Chinese goods, while China declared plans to levy additional duties on up to $ 3 billion of US imports in response to US tariffs on steel and aluminium.

“It’s hard not to stay long gold with geopolitical risk now registering in the danger zone as an escalation of a trade war and John Bolton’s appointment unambiguously raised short-term market risks to a whole new level,” Stephen Innes, APAC trading head at OANDA, said in a note.

Trump named Bolton, who has previously advocated using military force against North Korea and Iran, as his national security adviser last week provoking strong reactions worldwide. A senior Iranian official, on Sunday, called the move “shameful.”

The yellow metal also received support early Monday from fresh tensions between Saudi Arabia and Yemen’s Houthi militia, said a Hong Kong-based trader.

Saudi air defences shot down seven ballistic missiles fired by Houthi militia on Sunday, with debris killing a man in what was the first death in the capital during the Saudi-led coalition’s three-year military campaign in Yemen.

“Gold is going to be headline driven for the moment… so we are going to keep an eye out for any new information,” the trader added.

Gold is sought as a store of value during times of political and financial uncertainty, while a weaker dollar makes dollar-denominated bullion cheaper for holders of other currencies.

Meanwhile, speculators cut their net long positions in the week to March 20 by 23,822 contracts to 121,838 contracts, US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data showed on Friday. The data does not reflect the buying interest that occurred during the latter part of last week.

In other precious metals, silver gained 0.5 per cent to $ 16.60 per ounce; while platinum was up 0.2 per cent at $ 948.99 per ounce.

Palladium rose 0.1 per cent to $ 977.10 per ounce.