Gold Labors Under $1,800 Ahead of U.S. CPI Release

© Reuters.

By Barani Krishnan – Gold labored mostly under $1,800 an ounce Monday as long interest was capped ahead of the release of U.S. consumer inflation numbers that could surprise to the upside and hurt the yellow metal.

on New York’s Comex settled up $2.30, or 0.1%, at $1,794.40 after moving in a $5-bracket between 1,800.05 and 1,785.10.

The August , or CPI, reading due on Tuesday, is at the forefront of this week’s markets calendar as economists grapple with the question on whether this year’s inflation spike will abate at all, as the Federal Reserve claims it would.

U.S. CPI growth slowed in July but remained at a 13-year high of 5.4%. For August, economists are expecting the advance to slow further to 5.3%.With the Fed preparing for its September policy meeting, the focus could be larger than usual on the August CPI numbers. When the U.S. and other central banks choose to taper their economic stimulus is key to risk appetite across markets, with as many economists calling for a quick taper as those suggesting a gradual retreat.

“Much of the market already appears to have one eye on the Fed meeting next week and this is particularly true of gold, which has been hovering around $1,800 for much of the last month,” said Craig Erlam, analyst at online trading platform OANDA.

“The case has been building for the Fed to take a more patient approach to tapering which has revitalized the yellow metal but we may need to see more evidence before it takes the next step. It once again failed to break $1,833 after the jobs report, further establishing the level as a key barrier of resistance.”

December gold fell 2.3% last week, sliding its most since the week to July 29, and booking its first weekly loss in five as brief euphoria for longs over the dismal U.S. jobs report for August gave way to dismay as the dollar rebounded on talk of a prompt Fed taper.

Speculation that the central bank will be pressured to act quicker on inflation came as data showed U.S. producer prices rising by 8.3% in August, their most in over a decade. Until the so-called PPI data emerged, the argument for a taper was, however, weakened considerably by the US jobs report for August, which came in at 70% below economists’ targets.

The question of when the Fed ought to taper its stimulus and raise interest rates has been hotly debated in recent months as economic recovery conflicts with a resurgence of the coronavirus’ Delta variant. The Fed’s stimulus program and other monetary accommodation have been blamed for aggravating price pressures in the United States. The central bank has been buying $120 billion in bonds and other assets since the COVID-19 outbreak of March 2020 to support the economy. It has also been keeping interest rates at virtually zero levels for the past 18 months.

After declining 3.5% in 2020 from business shutdowns owing to Covid-19, the U.S. economy expanded robustly this year, expanding 6.5% in the second quarter, in line with the Federal Reserve’s forecast.

The Fed’s problem, however, is inflation, which has been outpacing economic growth. The Fed’s preferred gauge for inflation – the core Personal Consumption Expenditures Index, which excludes volatile food and energy prices – rose 3.6% in the year through July, its most since 1991. The PCE Index including energy and food rose 4.2% year-on-year.

The Fed’s own target for inflation is 2% per annum.

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