By Mark DeCambre, MarketWatch
Gold futures finished slightly higher Thursday as China-U.S. tensions remained in focus, driving haven buying on Wall Street.
“Souring China-U.S. relations are back on the front burner of the market place,” wrote Jim Wyckoff, senior analyst at Kitco.com in a Thursday research note.
Elevated animosities between Beijing and Washington over China’s human rights policies, including its relationship with Hong Kong and the treatment of a Muslim minority, have underpinned buying in safe-haven assets.
China on Thursday hardened its stance, forging ahead with a resolution to impose national-security laws on Hong Kong in a bid to suppress protests there.
That action comes after the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill that would sanction Chinese officials involved in the suppression of Uighurs. The proposal follows the U.S. State Department’s determination that Hong Kong no longer was autonomous from China, opening the way for President Donald Trump to take a range of steps including revoking special arrangements on trade.
Investors also pointed to further talk about U.S. monetary policy, including negative interest rates, and increased appetite for gold-focused exchange-traded funds as part of the driver for gains for gold despite a climb for global stocks.
August gold /zigman2/quotes/210037452/delayed GCQ20 +0.03% /zigman2/quotes/210034565/delayed GC00 +0.03% , which is now the most-active contract, ended $1.50, or 0.1%, higher at $1,728.30 an ounce, well off its intraday high at $1,743.70.
July silver /zigman2/quotes/210317727/delayed SIN20 +0.19% rose 21 cents, or 1.2%, to end at $17.967 an ounce.
A string of U.S. economic reports that highlight the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic did little to sway gold momentum on the session.
On Thursday, the Labor Department said 2.12 million unemployed Americans applied for state unemployment benefits in the week ended May 23. That is down from 2.4 million in the prior week.
Meanwhile, data showed that the U.S. economy contracted at an annual 5% pace in the first quarter instead of 4.8%, revised government data show. A downward revision to inventory investment mostly accounted for the downward revision, the Commerce Department, while orders for durable goods tumbled 17.2% in April. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a drop of 18.2%.
However, investors have noted that gold has been unable to break toward $1,800 an ounce.
“The stock market remains strongly supported, but it won’t be at the expense of safe-haven selling,” wrote Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda in a daily research note. ‘Gold has struggled to break above $1800 and that the next couple of weeks could be a frustration phase for bullish investors,” he wrote.
Among other metals Wednesday, July copper /zigman2/quotes/210057793/delayed HGN20 +0.45% gained 3.15 cents, or 1.3% to end at $2.4135 a pound. July platinum /zigman2/quotes/211798678/delayed PLN20 +0.26% slipped $10, or 1.1%, to settle at $868.10 an ounce, while September palladium /zigman2/quotes/213028404/delayed PAU20 -0.40% declined $31.90, or 1.6%, to close at $1.946.50 an ounce.