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Gold pinned below $2,000 as rate hike fears persist

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Gold prices inched up after recent losses on Monday, remaining under pressure as fears of a looming interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve dented appetite for the yellow metal, as did a recent spike in Treasury yields.

Bullion prices marked two straight weeks of losses as hawkish comments from Fed officials and some stronger-than-expected economic data ramped up fears that the Fed will keep hiking interest rates this year.

Such a scenario heralds more downward pressure for gold, given that rising lending rates push up the opportunity cost of holding bullion, which offers no yields. This notion saw gold lose the $2,000 mark, while the dollar strengthened.

Spot gold was flat at $1,983.94 an ounce, while gold futures rose 0.2% to $1,993.95 an ounce by 20:48 ET (00:48 GMT). Both instruments lost over 1% in the prior week.

Gold’s two-week decline comes shortly after the yellow metal surged to near record highs, driven largely by increased safe haven demand as markets feared a potential banking crisis and a recession this year.

Fears of a recession, especially as U.S. interest rates rise further, are expected to provide some support to the yellow metal, given its safe haven status.

Fed Fund futures prices show that markets are pricing in a nearly 90% chance that the Fed will hike rates by 25 basis points (bps) when it meets next week. While the central bank is then expected to signal a pause in June, markets are pricing in a small but growing possibility of another 25 bps hike in June.

Several Fed speakers recently signaled that interest rates will rise further, given that U.S. inflation is still trending well above the central bank’s target range. Rate hike decisions from other major central banks are also due next, including the European Central Bank and the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Any tightening in global monetary conditions heralds more pressure on gold.

Other precious metals were mixed on Monday, with platinum futures down 0.8%, while silver futures rose 0.3%.

Among industrial metals, copper futures fell slightly, extending steep losses from the past week as fears of slowing industrial activity weighed heavily. Copper futures fell 0.1% to $3.9888 a pound.

Growing uncertainty over an economic recovery in China, which is the world’s biggest copper importer, also hurt the red metal’s appeal.

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