Gold sticks to 9-mth high amid recession concerns, copper advances

By Ambar Warrick -- Gold prices steadied near a nine-month high on Wednesday as fears of a looming recession kept safe haven demand elevated, while copper prices rose on expectations that a recovery in Chinese demand will help offset slowing consumption in other countries.

Bullion prices advanced past a drop in stock markets, as safe haven demand for the metal outpaced that for the dollar amid increased expectations that the Federal Reserve will slow its pace of interest rate hikes in the coming months.

Spot gold was flat at $1,937.64 an ounce, while gold futures rose 0.2% to $1,938.35 an ounce. The yellow metal’s spot price narrowed the gap with the futures contract, ahead of the latter’s expiry in February.

Gold has been on a tear since mid-December amid growing expectations of smaller U.S. interest rate hikes, as economic growth and inflation cool in the country. Prices are also trading about $140 below a record high hit in 2020.

Recent losses in Wall Street, following a raft of weak corporate earnings, also fed into fears of slowing economic growth, which in turn boosted demand for gold.

Bullion prices have also vastly outperformed those of other precious metals so far this year. Gold is up about 6%, while silver and platinum are down more than 1% each.

The yellow metal’s rally was triggered largely by data indicating that U.S. inflation eased more than expected over the past few months, which is likely to invite smaller rate hikes by the Fed. Markets are broadly pricing in a 25 basis point hike by the Fed in February, and a potential pause in the central bank’s hiking cycle in the coming months.

Focus this week is on U.S. fourth-quarter GDP data to gauge how much growth slowed towards the end of 2022, especially as the effects of sharp interest rate hikes and relatively higher inflation began to be felt.

Among industrial metals, copper prices hovered at an over seven-month high on expectations of a sharp recovery in Chinese demand this year, as the country reemerges from three years of COVID-19 restrictions.

High-grade copper futures rose 0.1% to $4.2672 a pound, trading near their highest level since mid-June.

Still, markets remain uncertain over the timing of a Chinese economic recovery, given that the country is facing its worst yet COVID-19 outbreak.

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