Gold loses ground as trade tension pushes up metal’s price in China

Bengaluru — Gold prices dipped on Monday as China-US trade tensions and uncertainty over a deal weighed on the yuan, making the bullion expensive for buyers in the world’s largest consumer — China.

Spot gold was down 0.2% at $1,283.46 an ounce at 0351 GMT (5.51am SA time).

US gold futures slipped 0.2% to $1,284.40 an ounce.

“Gold price in yuan has risen fairly sharply since early May and Shanghai premiums are softening. That is probably taking the edge off demand and maybe inducing some people to offer [sell] gold,” said Nicholas Frappell, global general manager at ABC Bullion.

The trade war between the world’s two leading economies escalated on Friday, with the US hiking tariffs on $200bn worth of Chinese goods after Trump said Beijing “broke the deal” by reneging on earlier commitments. China has vowed to retaliate, without giving details.

The US and China appeared at a deadlock over trade negotiations on Sunday as Washington demanded promises of concrete changes to Chinese law and Beijing said it will not swallow any “bitter fruit” that harms its interests.

The offshore Chinese yuan dropped to its lowest levels in more than four months at 6.896 to the dollar. It last stood down 0.7% at 6.888 per dollar. A weaker yuan makes gold expensive for buyers in China.

“Markets are still living in some form of half-glass full optimism, but that is likely to erode with time as the reality of a full-blown trade war sinks in,” said Howie Lee, economist at OCBC Bank.

“I expect demand for gold to gain traction in the coming weeks,” Lee added.

While gold has managed to find support due to a risk-aversion mood among investors, prices have been stuck in a $15 range over the past week despite the slump in global markets.

Gold is also facing a barrier around $1,290 levels, restricting buying from traders who follow technical charts, analysts said.

“Gold’s performance has been rather disappointing to both bulls and bears alike,” INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir said in a note.

While holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.9% on Friday, speculators raised their net-long position in gold in the week ended May 7.

“Although there was not much propulsion this past week, we think the momentum [in gold] could build, especially if equity weakness remains deep and protracted,” Meir said.

Silver was down 0.3% at $14.70 per ounce, while platinum fell 1% to $852.50.

Palladium dropped 1.6% to $1,335.21.