Gold flat on doubts over US rate hike trajectory

  • Markets await U.S. CPI data on Wednesday
  • COMEX gold speculators raise net long positions

July 10 (Reuters) – Gold prices were little changed on Monday after U.S. jobs data last week cast doubts over the labor market’s strength, prompting investors to be more skeptical of the Federal Reserve’s rate hike trajectory.

Spot gold was steady at $1,923.62 per ounce by 0347 GMT. U.S. gold futures were down 0.2% at $1,929.50 per ounce.

The Labor Department’s closely watched employment report on Friday showed the U.S. economy added the smallest jobs in 2-1/2 years in June, but persistently strong wage growth pointed to still-tight labor market conditions.

“The non-farms were less eventful than the prior ADP (employment data), but importantly, don’t seem to challenge expectations around a July hike by the Fed,” said Nicholas Frappell, global head of institutional markets at ABC Refinery.

“It would take a profound miss on the upcoming CPI data (July 12) to alter this view, I believe.”

Gold is highly sensitive to higher rates as they dampen the appeal of bullion, which pays no interest.

Prices have dropped over 7% since reaching near-record levels in early May as investors scaled back expectations of an end to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s rate-hiking cycle.

However, an Invesco survey of central bank and sovereign wealth funds published on Monday showed that an increasing number of countries are repatriating gold reserves as protection against the sort of sanctions imposed by the West on Russia.

Data on Friday showed COMEX gold speculators raised their net long position by 12,733 contracts to 99,205 in the week ended July 3.

SPDR Gold Trust , the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said its holdings fell 0.3% on Friday.

In other precious metals, spot silver was steady at $23.05 per ounce, platinum fell 0.1% to $907.34 and palladium eased 0.4% to $1,238.86.

Reporting by Swati Verma; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Sohini Goswami

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Swati breaks news and handles coverage of the global commodities and energy markets.