Gold dips as virus-led curbs ease, tariff worries persistGold dips as virus-led curbs ease, tariff worries persist
A sales assistant takes out a gold ornament for a customer at Caibai Jewelry store in Beijing

By K. Sathya Narayanan

(Reuters) – Gold prices slipped on Tuesday as moves by some countries to relax coronavirus-led restrictions overshadowed concerns of souring U.S.-China relations and dampened the metal’s safe-haven appeal.

Spot gold eased 0.1% to $1,700.14 per ounce at 0524 GMT. U.S. gold futures fell 0.4% to $1,706.10.

“We are holding quite steady around the $1,700 level. On one side, you’ve got easing in lockdowns and that is probably improving investor sentiment and a move away from safe havens towards risk assets,” said ING analyst Warren Patterson.

“On the other side, tensions between China and the U.S. in relation to COVID-19 are reigniting once again. These two opposing forces are keeping the market on hold at the moment.”

Italy and the United States were among a slew of countries that tentatively eased lockdowns on Monday to revive their economies.

Investors, however, remained worried about brewing Sino-U.S. tensions after President Donald Trump threatened new tariffs on China for its handling of the outbreak, with his administration “turbocharging” an initiative to remove global industrial supply chains from Beijing.

Gold, which is considered an alternative asset during times of economic and political turmoil, rose 18% last year due to the tariff war and interest rate cuts by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

It has gained 12% so far this year as the Fed kept its benchmark rate at near zero and pumped trillions in emergency funding into U.S. financial markets. Other central banks and countries have also taken similar measures to prop up their virus-hit economies.

The widespread stimulus measures will be gold’s longer-term tailwind, analysts said, as the metal is considered as a hedge against inflation and currency debasement.

Meanwhile, investors awaited U.S. ISM non-manufacturing PMI data, due later in the day, and weekly jobless claims and April non-farm payrolls numbers scheduled for later this week.

“The consensus is for very bad numbers … the main catalyst for gold here is the extent to which they can surprise lower or higher. The data should really deviate from expectations to really animate gold one way or the other,” DailyFx currency strategist Ilya Spivak said.

Reflecting the appetite for bullion, holdings in the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust, rose 0.4% to 1,071.71 tonnes on Monday.

Among other metals, palladium rose 0.6% to $1,858.91 per ounce, while platinum eased 0.3% to $763.56 and silver slipped 0.4% to $14.77.

(Reporting by K. Sathya Narayanan in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Anil D’Silva)