Gold gains on Middle East concerns; Powell speech in focus

By Ashitha Shivaprasad

(Reuters) – Gold prices ticked up on Tuesday as tensions in the Middle East buoyed safe-haven demand for the metal, while speech from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell later this week will be eyed for more clarity on the rate path.

Spot gold was up 0.5% at $1,928.59 per ounce by 9:51 a.m. ET (1351 GMT), and U.S. gold futures rose 0.4% to $1,941.50.

The conflict in Gaza continues to attract flows into gold, until there is some type of ceasefire or de-escalation of the conflict, gold is going to hover above the $1,900 range, said Everett Millman, chief market analyst at Gainesville Coins.

U.S. President Joe Biden will make a high-stakes visit to Israel on Wednesday as Gaza’s humanitarian crisis worsens.

Gold, often used as a safe investment during times of political and financial uncertainty, has risen more than 4% so far in October as the Middle East conflict intensifies.

Investors also look forward to Powell’s speech on Thursday that could shine more light on the U.S. central bank’s monetary policy path after recent dovish rhetoric from several Fed officials.

If there is a hint that the Fed is reaching the end of this rate hike cycle, that would be good for gold, even if we don’t get any rate cuts soon, Millman added.

Markets are pricing in around a 67% chance that the Fed will leave interest rates unchanged at their policy meeting next month, according to the CME FedWatch tool.

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

U.S. retail sales increased more than expected in September, suggesting the economy ended the third quarter on a strong note.

Limiting gains for bullion prices, benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury yield hit a more than one-week high. [US/]

Silver firmed 1.4% to $22.90 per ounce, platinum rose 0.7% to $897.04. Palladium was down 1.2% to $1,130.22.

(Reporting by Ashitha Shivaprasad in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski)