Gold hits four-week low on firmer dollar amid US rate hike forecasts

An employee sorts gold bars in this file photo. (Reuters)
Updated 08 February 2018
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Gold hits four-week low on firmer dollar amid US rate hike forecasts

LONDON: Gold prices dropped for a third straight session on Thursday and hit a fresh four-week low as investors liquidated their long positions on a firmer dollar, while expectations of more US rate hikes this year also weighed on the market.
Spot gold was down 0.4 percent at $1,312.41 per ounce, after hitting its lowest since Jan. 10 at $1,309.51 earlier in the session. US gold futures for April delivery were nearly flat at $1,314.50 per ounce.
The dollar rose on Wednesday, marking its biggest one-day gain in more than three months against a basket of currencies. It was steady at 90.269 on Thursday.
“There was consistent selling on Comex ... and offers above the $1,320 cash level were enough to prevent an advance,” said MKS PAMP Group trader Alex Thorndike.
“Spot gold slowly began to work its way lower with ongoing liquidation seen from managed money and leveraged clients — those who were still buying aggressively above $1,340.”
Asian shares flirted with six-week lows on Thursday, while US stocks finished lower on Wednesday, losing ground late in the session as a jump in Treasury yields kept investor nervousness high. The US Federal Reserve will stick to its plan for “steady, gradual” interest rate increases, San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams said on Wednesday despite market gyrations and strong data on US wage growth that has bond traders pricing in faster rising inflation.
Hikes in interest rates lead to higher bond yields and dampen the demand for non-yielding gold. The yellow metal is also used as a hedge against inflation.
“The shifting Fed narrative that is gathering hawkish following could be the most significant thorn in the gold bulls side,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading APAC at OANDA. Spot gold is expected to fall more to $1,301 as it has pierced below a support at $1,316 per ounce, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao. Holdings at SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund (ETF), dropped 0.29 percent to 826.90 tons on Wednesday from 829.27 tons on Tuesday. Holdings fell for a second straight session after they marked their worst one-day drop since December 2016 on Tuesday.
“The heavy falls in equities appear to have impacted ETF investors,” ANZ analysts said in a note.
Among other precious metals, silver was little changed at $16.37 per ounce after touching its lowest since Dec. 22 at $16.22 earlier in the session. Platinum declined 0.2 percent to $977.50 per ounce, after touching its lowest since Jan. 11 on Wednesday. Palladium fell 0.3 percent to $981.55 per ounce. Earlier in the session, it hit $977.22, its lowest since Nov. 15.


China files WTO challenge to US tariffs on solar panels

Updated 15 August 2018
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China files WTO challenge to US tariffs on solar panels

  • The 30 percent tariffs announced in January improperly help US producers in violation of WTO rules, China’s commerce ministry said
  • China has tried to portray itself as a defender of the WTO-based trading system

BEIJING: China says it is challenging a US tariff hike on solar panels before the World Trade Organization, adding to its sprawling conflicts with President Donald Trump over trade and technology.
The 30 percent tariffs announced in January improperly help US producers in violation of WTO rules, the Commerce Ministry said. It said a formal complaint was filed Tuesday with the WTO in Geneva.
The solar duties are separate from tariff hikes imposed by the Trump administration starting in July on Chinese imports in response to complaints Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology.
The duties also apply to imports of solar cells and modules from Europe, Canada, Mexico and South Korea. That strained relations with US allies.
The Trump administration has defended the solar tariffs as necessary to protect American producers, saying import prices were unfairly low due to subsidies and other improper support.
Washington took action under a 1974 US law instead of through the WTO. That led to complaints it was undermining the global trade body. US officials say such action is necessary because the WTO lacks the ability to address Chinese trade tactics.
China has tried to portray itself as a defender of the WTO-based trading system. It has attempted to recruit European and other governments as allies against Washington, but they echo US complaints about Chinese market barriers and industrial policy.
The European Union filed its own WTO complaint in June against Chinese technology policies it said violate Beijing’s free-trade commitments.
The US solar action “seriously damaged China’s trade interests” and “also affects the seriousness and authority of WTO rules,” said a Commerce Ministry statement.
WTO complaints begin with negotiations between parties to the dispute. If those fail, the case moves to a panel of experts who can decide whether the trade controls are improper.
In their technology dispute, Washington imposed 25 percent duties on $34 billion of Chinese goods it said benefit from improper industrial policies. Beijing responded with similar penalties.
Another round of US tariff hikes on $16 billion of Chinese goods is due to take effect Aug. 23. Beijing says it will retaliate.
Earlier, Beijing filed a separate WTO challenge on July 16 to Trump’s proposal for yet another round of increases that would add 25 percent import duties on an additional $200 billion of Chinese goods.