Gold surges above US$1,450 as rate cut hopes, Iran tensions fuel demand

Spot gold hit $1,452.60 an ounce in early trade, its highest since May 10, 2013, before easing 0.2% to $1,442.56 as of 0336 GMT.

BENGALURU: Gold on Friday surpassed the key $1,450 level for the first time since May 2013, after comments from a top Federal Reserve official bolstered expectations of an interest rate cut, while fresh tensions in the Middle East further supported bullion.

Spot gold hit $1,452.60 an ounce in early trade, its highest since May 10, 2013, before easing 0.2% to $1,442.56 as of 0336 GMT.

The metal has gained nearly 2% so far this week, on track for a second consecutive weekly gain.

U.S. gold futures jumped 1.1% to $1,444.10 an ounce.

At a central banking conference on Thursday, New York Fed President John Williams said policymakers need to add stimulus early to deal with lower inflation when interest rates are near zero and cannot wait for an economic disaster to unfold.

"Depending on how you want to look at Williams' comments last night, it was an academic report but cutting to the layer of the bait and getting to the meat of the argument, it is dovish," said Stephen Innes, managing partner, Vanguard Markets.

"Gold is trading above $1,400, we are nowhere near threatening to go back to $1,360 or $1,375, and there is so much buying going on. Expect gold prices to continue to march higher."

The comments from Williams made it a virtual certainty the Fed would opt to cut interest rates by 25 basis points (bps) at its July 30-31 policy meeting and also fuelled expectations of an even deeper 50 bps reduction.

Williams' remarks sent the dollar to a near two-week low, making gold cheaper for holders of other currencies.

Uncertainty in the Middle East also boosted the metal's safe-haven appeal. The United States said on Thursday a U.S. Navy ship had "destroyed" an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz after the aircraft threatened the vessel, but Iran said it had no information about losing a drone.

"The extra push for gold prices came from comments by NY Fed President John Williams which implied quite aggressive rate-cutting, plus the Iranian drone news and the seizure of a tanker by the Iranians in the Straits of Hormuz," said Nicholas Frappell, global general manager at ABC Bullion.

Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose 1.42% to 814.62 tonnes on Thursday from 803.18 tonnes the previous day.

Spot gold may climb to $1,461 per ounce, as it has cleared a resistance at $1,439, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Silver rose 0.5% to $16.42 per ounce, its highest since June 25, 2018. The metal has risen 8% so far this week, on track for its best week in three years.

Platinum gained 0.6% to $853.70, while palladium eased 0.1% to $1,524.30 an ounce. - Reuters

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