Gold slipped early Wednesday after touching a new high Tuesday as weak U.S. manufacturing data for August drove a flight to precious metals as safe-haven assets.
The most-active December gold contract climbed to $1,555.90 an ounce Tuesday on Comex, a 1.7% rally from Friday. U.S. financial markets were closed Monday for the Labor Day holiday. This morning finds the December contract at $1,547.80.
U.S. manufacturing contracted for the first time in three years last month, spurring fears of an economic slowdown. U.S. President Donald on Tuesday also threatened to be “tougher” on Beijing if he’s reelected in 2020. More U.S. tariffs took effect over the weekend, and the U.S. rejected China’s request to delay them.
Gold rose 6.4% in August amid uncertainty over the U.S.-China trade war, fears of an economic recession, speculation of upcoming interest-rate cuts and negative bond yields. The same factors pushed up silver, which gained 4.9% Tuesday and 12% in August. The December contract settled at $19.24 an ounce Tuesday and was trading higher early Wednesday.
SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said its holdings climbed 1.34% to 890.04 metric tons Tuesday from Friday, Reuters reported.
Adding to global uncertainty, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing off with the House of Commons over Brexit and has threatened to call for a general election if he’s forced to request an extension to the Oct. 31 deadline. The Commons voted 328 to 301 on Tuesday to take control of the agenda, allowing MPs to bring a bill requesting a Brexit delay, the BBC reported. The defeat came in Johnson’s first vote as prime minister.
Investors also continue to watch for signals that central banks plan further monetary easing. The CME FedWatch Tool put the probability of a U.S. Federal Reserve interest-rate cut on Sept. 18 at 100% early Wednesday. The probability of a 25-basis-point reduction is currently 90.4%, down from 94.6% Friday, while the likelihood of a 50-basis-point cut is 9.6%, compared with zero on Friday, when the odds of no cut at all were 5.4%.
St. Louis Fed President James Bullard told Reuters in an interview that the central bank should cut rates by 50 basis points at its meeting in two weeks to get ahead of both market expectations and a global trade war. The Fed will release its Beige Book on Wednesday, giving investors a look into what businesses think about the state of the economy.
New York Fed President John Williams is set to speak Wednesday and Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on Friday. Investors will also be watching for a key economic indicator on Friday – the monthly U.S. jobs report for August.
Meanwhile, emerging-market currencies and gold are moving in opposite directions for only the seventh time in the past 12 years, Bloomberg reported, noting the MSCI Emerging Markets Currency Index is trading at its lowest level relative to gold since March 2013.
Both spot platinum and spot palladium were trading higher early Wednesday after gaining ground on Tuesday.
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