Gold drops as signs of lockdown easing lift risk appetite

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Gold rings are seen on display at a goldsmith shop in Kuala Lumpur

By Brijesh Patel

(Reuters) - Gold prices fell for a third straight session on Tuesday as optimism about the easing of coronavirus-related restrictions drove investors towards riskier assets, though global recession fears limited bullion's losses.

Spot gold was down 0.3% at $1,709.83 per ounce by 1213 GMT, after falling as much as 1.4% earlier in the session. U.S. gold futures were little changed at $1,724 per ounce.

"Gold has lost some of its shine on the assumption that easing lockdowns will bring a V-shaped recovery, and with that less need for gold as a diversifier and hedge," Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen said.

From Italy to New Zealand, governments announced the easing of restrictions. More parts of the United States looked set to restart business, though Britain said it is too dangerous to relax a stringent lockdown for fear of a second outbreak.

European shares hovered near two-week highs as traders cheered lockdown easing news, while a slate of strong earnings reports from companies outweighed a slump in oil prices.

Business shutdowns have led to a record 26.5 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits since mid-March and are likely to push the unemployment rate to 16% or higher in the next report.

Central banks around the world have rolled out fiscal and monetary stimulus measures to combat financial impact from the virus, which has infected about 3.03 million people globally and killed 210,263.

"The demand destruction due to Covid-19 cannot be overstated, volatility in financial markets remains elevated and precious metals especially gold remains as good hedge in an investor's portfolio of other financial assets," said Avtar Sandu, senior commodities manager at Phillip Futures, in a note.

The focus now shifts to two major central banks policy meetings this week, following the Bank of Japan which expanded monetary stimulus on Monday.

Gold tends to benefit from widespread stimulus measures from central banks because it is widely viewed as a hedge against inflation and currency debasement.

However, demand for physical metal showed signs of softness during the lockdown. The China Gold Association said China's gold consumption fell by almost half in the first quarter as containment measures and rising prices hit demand in the world's biggest market.

"Weak physical demand is currently off-setting all the positive hype about gold and with that there is a risk of a period of consolidation and perhaps even lower prices," Hansen said.

"Overall, however, we believe that the reasons that has brought gold to these levels will not go away when lockdowns are eased."

Elsewhere, palladium rose 0.5% to $1,935 an ounce and platinum gained 1% to $765.45. Silver dropped 0.6% to $15.19 per ounce.

(Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru. Editing by Jane Merriman, Louise Heavens and Jan Harvey)