Gold prices rose on Friday in line with equities and other commodities as Chinese growth data proved no worse than feared, but remained set for a second week of losses as expectations for another round of US economic stimulus measures faded.
The metal is down 1.4 percent so far in July, erasing gains made late last month on speculation the Federal Reserve would launch a new round of quantitative easing.
Further easing would maintain pressure on long-term interest rates, keeping the opportunity cost of holding gold low, and would likely weigh on the dollar. However, minutes of a Fed meeting this week suggested little support for imminent QE.
“I don’t expect the Fed to embark on quantitative easing within this quarter, unless there is a sharp deterioration of the economic situation in the United States,” Peter Fertig, a consultant at Quantitative Commodity Research, said. “That has been one of the reasons gold has traded lower this week.”
“For gold and the other precious metals to push higher, we would need to see more improvement in risk assets,” he said. “If there is to be a breakout of the current trading range to the upside, I expect this more for the final quarter.”
Spot gold was up 0.6 percent at $1,579.40 an ounce at 0931 GMT, while U.S. gold futures for August delivery were up $13.90 an ounce at $1,579.20. It has held within a $1,525-$1,675 an ounce range for much of the last three months.
Downward pressure on gold, which took the metal to a low of $1,565.64 an ounce earlier on Friday, eased as the euro steadied versus the U.S. unit after a ratings downgrade for Italy earlier pushed it towards a two-year low.
Italian government bond yields jumped after Moody’s cut the country’s credit rating by two notches, rattling investors hours before Rome heads to the debt market to raise up to 5.25 billion euros.
European equities bounced meanwhile as growth data from China proved no worse than feared, but weak enough to keep alive hopes for more official stimulus for the economy. The news also lifted oil and base metals prices, with Brent crude rising above $101 a barrel.
Indian buyers retreat
On the physical markets, gold traders in major consumer India took to the sidelines on Friday as prices recovered, with a weak rupee making the metal more expensive for local buyers. Record local prices have weighed heavily on demand this year.
“Unless physical players and/or opportune investors step in significantly at these levels, we see little standing in the way of further gold weakness in the near-term,” UBS said in a note.
“In the absence of fresh catalysts, market participants have focused on technicals, and from this perspective, gold looks vulnerable to the downside.”
Barclays Capital, which identified chart resistance for spot gold at $1,595 an ounce, suggested selling into rallies. “Risks remain for a retest of the larger range lows at 1525/26 before looking for signs of a base,” it said.
Holdings of gold-backed exchange-traded funds, which issue securities backed with physical stocks of metal, dropped for the third session on Thursday to 70.4 million ounces, 0.7 percent below a peak of 70.9 million ounces in March.
The largest gold-backed ETF, New York’s SPDR Gold Trust , has seen an outflow of nearly 10 tonnes so far in July.
Among other precious metals, silver was up 0.8 percent at $27.34 an ounce.
The gold/silver ratio, which measures the number of silver ounces needed to buy an ounce of gold, eased further from last month’s near two-year high after silver outperformed on Thursday, bucking gold’s losses to rise 0.3 percent.
The move was driven by a fresh offering from the Sprott Silver Trust, UBS said.
“ETF buying on the back of a follow-on offering by Sprott Physical Silver Trust eventually counteracted the heavy sentiment that prevailed for most of the day,” it said.
“The sharp bounce caught the market by surprise and the short-covering rally that followed took prices to a high of $27.36 from the session’s low of $26.50.”
Spot platinum was up 0.8 percent at $1,421.30 an ounce, while spot palladium was up 0.5 percent at $576.50 an ounce.