Gold firms as Middle East conflict buoys safe-haven appeal

An employee holds one kilogram gold bullion at the YLG Bullion International Co. headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, on Friday, Dec. 22, 2023. Photographer: Chalinee Thirasupa/Bloomberg

GOLD prices firmed on Monday, hovering near record-high levels hit in the previous session, as traders kept a close eye on developments surrounding the Middle East conflict, prompting safe-haven buying of assets such as bullion.

Spot gold was up 0.5% at $2,353.64 per ounce, as of 0743 GMT, after hitting an all-time high of $2,431.29 on Friday. U.S. gold futures was steady at $2,370.00.

"Gold remains in vogue as a financial asset given the combination of geopolitical risks and the prospects of Fed interest rate easing in the second half of the year," said Tim Waterer, chief market analyst, KCM Trade.

"In many respects, gold is taking on the appearance of being as 'asset for all occasions' given its ability to rally under varying market dynamics in 2024."

Bullion rose above the $2,400 level in the previous session and has gained over 14% so far this year, fuelled by strong central bank buying, safe-haven inflows amid continued geopolitical risks.

Despite recent U.S. economic data showing strong labor market and high inflation, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Susan Collins is eyeing a couple of interest rate cuts this year.

Lower interest rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding bullion.

China's physical gold premiums rose last week, driven by strong demand to shore up a depreciating yuan, while record-high prices in India forced dealers to offer discounts for a sixth straight week.

Spot silver rose 1.9% to $28.41 per ounce, after touching its highest level since early 2021 on Friday.

"Silver is set to outperform gold as investment flows surge amid record-high gold prices. We expect gold to trade near $2,500/oz and silver to move above $31/oz by the end of 2024," analysts at ANZ Research wrote in a note.

Platinum fell 0,3% at $970.68 and palladium lost 0.3% to $1,046.73. - Reuters

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