Gold prices firm, buoyed by tepid US economic data


Gold prices held steady on Monday after marking their best quarter in a year, supported by uninspiring economic data from the United States and dovish remarks from a Federal Reserve official on Friday.
Spot gold was mostly unchanged at $1,248.50 per ounce at 0101 GMT, while US gold futures were also flat at $1,251.
Spot gold notched a quarterly gain of about 8.4 percent on Friday, marking its best quarter in a year.
US consumer spending barely rose in February amid delays in the payment of income tax refunds, but the biggest annual increase in inflation in nearly five years supported expectations of further interest rate hikes this year.
The Fed could pause interest rate hikes when it begins shedding its bond holdings, a move that would have little effect on financial markets, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said on Friday.
Hedge funds and money managers raised their net long position in COMEX gold for the second straight week in the week to March 28, and boosted it slightly in silver, US Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed on Friday.

Some of Wall Street’s top banks marked down their growth estimates on the US economy in the first quarter as they blamed disappointing data on consumer spending in February on mild weather and slow payout of tax refunds.
The Fed could begin shrinking its $4.5-trillion balance sheet as soon as this year, earlier than most economists expect, New York Fed President William Dudley said on Friday in the central bank’s most definitive comments on the question that looms over financial¬†markets.
China called on the United States to play its part in resolving trade frictions between the two countries, and said Beijing isn’t devaluing its currency to boost exports as tensions simmered ahead of President Xi Jinping’s first meeting with US President Donald Trump.
The US Mint sold 21,000 ounces of American Eagle gold coins in March, down 23.6 percent from the previous month, according to the latest data.

Gold demand in India rose this week due to a festival and as local prices adjusted to an appreciating rupee, while higher prices kept a check on demand elsewhere in Asia.
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