Gold prices firm as deepening US-China rift lifts demand

Gold gained on Friday as intensifying US-China tensions compounded fears of a slow recovery in a global economy already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.

Spot gold climbed 0.6 per cent to $1,735.43 per ounce by 10:56 a.m. EDT (1456 GMT), after falling 1.4 per cent on Thursday, and was headed for a small weekly decline. US gold futures rose 0.8 per cent to $1,736.20.

“China’s aggressive stance on Hong Kong security could exacerbate already tense relations (with US) and a possible confrontation between US warships and Iranian freighters headed for Venezuela are key concerns heading into the long weekend, prompting investor buying,” said Tai Wong, head of base and precious metals derivatives trading at BMO.

US-China friction came to the fore again over the source of the coronavirus and escalated further with China’s proposal to impose security laws on Hong Kong, drawing flak from Washington.

The tensions compounded fears of a slower global economic recovery, pressuring equity markets but supporting the US dollar, also considered a safe haven.

Heightening economic woes, Beijing dropped its annual growth target for the first time.

Gold, considered an insurance during political uncertainty, scaled an over 7-1/2 year peak earlier this week.

It has held its ground above the key $1,700 per ounce level, building impetus to reach its 2011 peak in the coming quarters, Fitch Solutions said in a note.

Lower-for-longer interest rates with quantitative easing in full swing, macro and geopolitical uncertainty and strong investor flows should continue to support gold on a six to 12 month horizon, Fitch said.

On the physical side, demand picked up in top Asian hubs as economies eased lockdowns.

Elsewhere, palladium fell 4.2 per cent to $1,922.55 per ounce, but was on track for its strongest week since March.

Platinum rose 0.5 per cent to $836.80 per ounce and silver was 0.7 per cent higher at $17.17.