Gold prices steady near 2-mth high before Fed, data-heavy week

 Gold prices fell slightly in Asian trade on Monday but remained within sight of two-month highs after growing conviction over U.S. interest rate cuts this year spurred sharp gains in the yellow metal.

But gold may now once again tread water in the near-term, especially ahead of key Federal Reserve signals and labor data due later in the week.

Spot gold fell 0.1% to $2,080.86 an ounce, while gold futures expiring in April fell 0.3% to $2,089.25 an ounce by 00:12 ET (05:12 GMT). Both instruments rallied over 2% each over the past week, hitting their highest levels for 2024 and also breaking out of a trading range established for most of the year so far.

Gold’s gains were driven by some soft U.S. economic data spurring bets that the Fed will cut interest rates by June. But anticipation of more cues from the central bank saw traders once again step back from big bets on the yellow metal.

Other precious metals also retreated on Monday. Platinum futures fell 0.4% to $888.70  an ounce, while silver futures fell 0.5% to $23.240 an ounce.

Powell testimony, nonfarm payrolls awaited

Markets were now focused squarely on a two-day testimony by Fed Chair Jerome Powell this week, for any more cues on the path of interest rates.

Analysts expect Powell to reiterate his stance that the Fed will need more convincing that inflation is moving back towards the bank’s 2% annual target, with the Fed chair widely expected to maintain a hawkish tilt.

But traders were still pricing in a greater chance for a 25 basis point cut in June, according to the CME Fedwatch tool.

After Powell’s testimony, focus is also on key nonfarm payrolls data for February, due on Friday. A cooling labor market is also one the Fed’s main considerations for altering interest rates.

Copper prices creep lower before more China cues, ANZ says watch India

Among industrial metals, copper futures expiring in May fell 0.4% to $3.8443 a pound, with markets turning cautious towards the red metal ahead of key signals from top importer China.

China is set to hold its 2024 National People’s Congress on Tuesday, and will likely roll out more stimulus measures while also providing economic forecasts for 2024.

Fears of slowing Chinese demand rattled copper prices over the past two years, as a post-COVID economic recovery in the country failed to materialize.

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