Gold trades in tight range as market braces for fresh economic cues

By Deep Kaushik Vakil

(Reuters) – Gold firmed on Monday, helped by a weaker dollar, although prices were stuck in a tight range as traders turned their attention to this week’s economic data that may influence the U.S. Federal Reserve’s next policy decision.

Spot gold was 0.4% higher at $1,990.34 per ounce by 1:45 p.m. EDT (1745 GMT), while U.S. gold futures settled up 0.5% at $1,999.80.

Prices turned positive after the Dallas Fed’s report showed manufacturing activity in Texas contracted in April, highlighting the economic toll of the Fed’s rate tightening cycle.

“This market is treading water in the short term, waiting on its next piece of economic data that could potentially jolt it in one direction or the other,” said David Meger, director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures.

The U.S. dollar eased 0.5%, making the greenback-priced bullion more appealing to overseas buyers. [USD/]

Gold dropped below $2,000 last week on Fed officials’ hawkish remarks and after surveys showed the U.S. and euro zone business activity gathered pace in April.

Markets now expect a 91% chance of a 25-basis-point Fed hike at its May 2 to 3 policy meeting, according to the CME FedWatch tool.

Higher interest rates raise the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding gold.

“While it will take a fresh catalyst to see the price return above $2,000 an ounce, gold is unlikely to fall below $1,950 any time soon,” Kinesis Money analyst Rupert Rowling wrote in a note.

Investors await a key Fed-favoured inflation gauge, the core personal consumption expenditures index, as well as the U.S. GDP quarterly growth rate, due this week. [CFTC/]

Platinum shed 3.4% at $1,085.91 an ounce and palladium plunged 4.5% to $1,530.33.

This was due to profit-taking off of recent highs before heading into an uncertain week-and-a-half of news, said Meger.

Silver rose 0.7% to $25.20.

(Reporting by Deep Vakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Tomasz Janowski, Josie Kao and Shilpi Majumdar)