Gold steadies as dollar dips, traders await trade deal fineprint

By Sumita Layek
FILE PHOTO: One kilo gold bar is displayed in shop in Dubai's gold souk

By Sumita Layek

(Reuters) - Gold steadied on Monday as the dollar weakened and investors sought more clarity on the "phase one" trade deal between the United States and China.

Spot gold was little changed at $1,475.50 per ounce by 0821 GMT after prices came under some early pressure in the Asian session on initial optimism over the trade deal. U.S. gold futures fell 0.1% to $1,480.10.

Despite some signs of caution, equities remained in positive territory, limiting bullion's advance, after the world's top two economies announced the "phase one" agreement and suspended some tariffs on each other's goods that were due to go into effect on Sunday.

"We still don't know what is in the deal ... most of the traders had already discounted this news in the last couple of weeks, as it has been in the market that the phase 1 deal will happen," said Hareesh V, head of commodity research at Geojit Financial Services.

"Also, the dollar is slightly negative, so these are the reasons we haven't seen a drastic sell-off in gold."

The dollar fell 0.2% against a basket of rivals, making gold cheaper for holders of other currencies.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Sunday said U.S. exports to China will nearly double over the next two years, although officials are yet to decide a date to sign the agreement.

"The phase one deal fell short of market expectations and is probably not enough to fully restore business confidence or generate a meaningful recovery in exports or investment," AxiTrader market strategist Stephen Innes said in a note.

"Traders have now turned focus to the long and arduous road to a phase two deal. So gold could do well on escalating trade tensions."

Gold has risen 15% this year on the backdrop of the months-long tariff war and its impact on the global economy.

"Gold prices are not going to slide as global growth is not super positive, there are still some risks," said Phillip Futures analyst Benjamin Lu, adding prices will range between $1,400-$1,450 an ounce in the short term.

Data from the U.S. on Friday showed retail sales increased less than expected in November.

Speculators slashed their bullish positions in COMEX gold contracts in the week to Dec. 10.

Elsewhere, palladium rose 1% to $1,949.49 an ounce. The autocatalyst metal climbed to a record high of $1,979.95 on Friday driven by supply concerns.

Silver gained 0.4% to $17 per ounce, while platinum rose 0.4% to $931.47.


(Reporting by Sumita Layek in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich, Kirsten Donovan)