Gold futures fell sharply for a third straight session on Tuesday, touching their lowest levels in about two weeks as investors assessed the latest U.S. data on inflation and looked to the Federal Reserve which is expected to raise benchmark interest rates this week.
The central bank is expected to announce on Wednesday the first increase in fed fund futures rates since 2018 as policy makers attempt to combat U.S. inflation at a 40-year-high, even though Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could hurt global economic growth.
Russia and Ukraine were also set to continue talks to end their hostilities in Eastern Europe, after a fourth round of negotiations on Monday ending without any clear agreement.
Gold had been drawing safe-haven bids since the start of the conflict between Moscow and Kyiv on Feb. 24 but it has begun to stage a substantial retrenchment ahead of the Fed decision on Wednesday.
also fell by 32.8 cents, or 1.3%, to $24.97 an ounce.
Gold prices continued to trade lower after data Tuesday showed that wholesale prices rose a sharp 0.8% in February, but came in below the Wall Street economists forecast of a 0.9% gain. Separately, the New York Fed’s Empire State business conditions index plunged 14.9 points to negative 11.8 in March, the regional Fed bank said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Fed is widely expected to raise interest rates by 25 basis points on Wednesday, commencing what is expected to be a series of hikes to borrowing costs to quell inflation.
The “risk-reward of holding bullion,” with the Fed looking to hike rates to cool inflation, has taken some of the steam out of gold, said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management, in a Tuesday note.
The prospective hikes can spark selling in Treasurys, pushing yields higher and that can raise the opportunity cost for owning nonyielding gold versus government debt, wrote Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank, in a daily note.
Ozkardeskaya said, however, that “successive failures to find a diplomatic solution in the Ukrainian war could overcome the rising U.S. yields and throw a floor under the decline of the price of an ounce near the $1,900 mark.”