Gold hits over 7-month peak as Huawei case sparks risk-off sentiment

Gold hit a more than seven-month high on Tuesday as investors shun riskier assets on worries over escalation in Sino-U.S. trade tensions after the U.S. Justice Department charged China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd with fraud.

Spot gold rose to its highest since June 14, 2018 at $1,304.53 in morning trade and was firm at $1,303.62 per ounce by 0319 GMT. U.S. gold futures were also steady at $1,302.70 per ounce.

“Investors are very cautious with many uncertainties on U.S.-China trade talks and Brexit. Those prospects don’t look positive,” said Margaret Yang, a market analyst at CMC Markets.

“Money is fleeing into safe-haven assets such as gold, seeking safety.”

The United States on Monday charged Huawei, its chief financial officer and two affiliates with bank and wire fraud to violate sanctions against Iran in a case that has escalated tensions with Beijing.

Investors fear the charges could complicate high-level trade talks set to begin on Wednesday where Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and others.

The dollar index, a gauge of its value versus six major peers, held close to a two-week low, while Asian shares fell.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting begins later in the day, where the central bank is expected to leave interest rates unchanged.

The Fed raised interest rates four times last year, but some officials have said they will be patient in raising rates given the stalemate over global trade, the U.S. federal government shutdown, and waning business and consumer confidence.

Gold tends to rise on expectations of lower interest rates, which reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

Gold has risen over 12 percent since touching a more than 1-1/2-year-low in August mostly due to volatile stock markets and a softer dollar on the back of expectations that the Fed will pause its multi-year rate-hike cycle.

Reflecting investor sentiment in bullion, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose 0.73 percent to 815.64 tonnes on Monday, their highest since June 2018.

“We remain moderately constructive on gold heading into the balance of the week as a more stable vote in the British Parliament on Tuesday and the likelihood of a dovish Fed policy statement should exert further downward pressure on the dollar,” said INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir.

In other metals, palladium fell 0.2 percent to $1,328.50 per ounce. Prices hit a record high of $1,434.50 on January 17.

Silver shed 0.1 percent to $15.72 per ounce, while platinum slipped 0.1 percent to $808.50.

Source: Reuters