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Gold prices edge lower in face of higher-for-longer rates

Gold prices edge lower in face of higher-for-longer rates
© Reuters– Gold prices fell in Asian trade on Monday amid increasing bets that the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates higher for longer, although some safe-haven demand and near-term dollar weakness kept the yellow metal above key levels.

Bullion prices were hit with a heavy dose of profit-taking in January as traders unwound bets that the Fed will begin cutting interest rates by as soon as March 2024. This unwinding came to a head late last week when the yellow metal fell close to breaking below the $2,000 an ounce level.

But gold found strong support at that level, aided chiefly by increased safe-haven demand in the face of a worsening conflict in the Middle East. Some near-term profit-taking in the , which fell from an over one-month low on Monday, also aided bullion prices.

But gold remained under pressure from the prospect of higher-for-longer U.S. rates.

fell 0.3% to $2,022.91 an ounce, while expiring in February fell 0.2% to $2,024.30 an ounce by 00:31 ET (05:31 GMT).

Markets reverse March rate-cut bets, Fed now expected to hold

The showed on Monday that traders were now pricing in a greater chance that the Fed will keep rates steady in March, as opposed to initial expectations for a cut.

The tool showed a 52.9% chance for the Fed to keep rates steady, up sharply from a 19% chance seen last week. Traders were also pricing in a 46.2% chance for a 25 basis point cut, down sharply from a 76.3% chance seen a week ago.

The shift in expectations came amid a chorus of Fed officials stating that it was too early for the central bank to consider rate cuts, especially as inflation remained sticky. The central bank is also widely expected to keep rates on hold .

But before that, a string of key U.S. economic readings are due this week. data is due on Thursday, while data- which is the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge- is due on Friday.

Both readings are widely expected to factor into the Fed’s plans for rates this year. While gold is expected to eventually benefit from the Fed’s rate cuts, the timing and scale of the potential cuts remains uncertain.

Copper edges lower, China outlook remains weak

Among industrial metals, copper prices fell slightly on Monday, and retained a bulk of their losses made so far in January.

expiring in March fell 0.4% to $3.7752 a pound, and were down 3% so far in January.

The red metal was battered by growing doubts over an economic recovery in top importer China, after the country clocked underwhelming for the fourth quarter.

Sentiment towards China showed little sign of improvement on Monday, after the People’s Bank of China kept its benchmark at record lows, signaling that it had limited headroom to loosen policy further and support growth.

Beyond China, a slew of purchasing managers index readings from several major economies are on tap this week, and are expected to show sustained weakness in business activity.

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