Gold prices rise with Fed meet, government shutdown in focus

September 18, 2023 5:54 AM EDT Gold prices rose on Monday as markets bet that the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates on hold this week, while growing fears of a U.S. government shutdown spurred some safe haven demand.

The yellow metal saw some gains in recent sessions as strong inflation and economic activity data failed to convince markets that a U.S. interest rate hike was imminent. But gains were also limited as the dollar raced to six-month highs on the data.

Bullion prices are also expected to see some safe haven demand amid concerns over a U.S. government shutdown, as top Republican lawmakers spar over defense spending and broader fiscal spending cuts.

Lawmakers have about two weeks to pass a new spending bill and avert a shutdown.

But historically, gold has seen little gains during past shutdowns. The 2018-2019 shutdown- which was the longest government shutdown in history, only elicited a $20 bump in gold prices over 35 days.

Spot gold rose 0.3% to $1,929.32 an ounce, while gold futures expiring in December rose 0.2% to $1,950.15 an ounce by 23:49 ET (03:49 GMT). Both instruments notched a 0.3% gain last week.

Fed set to hold, but higher inflation to elicit hawkish outlook

The Federal Reserve is broadly expected to keep interest rates on hold at the conclusion of a two-day meeting on Wednesday.

But markets remain wary of the central bank’s outlook, given that recent increases in inflation and resilience in the U.S. economy give it more headroom to raise interest rates further.

Regardless of another hike, the Fed is widely expected to keep rates at over 20-year highs until at least mid-2024. This trend has weighed heavily on bullion prices over the past year, and is likely to limit any major upside in the yellow metal.

Rising interest rates push up the opportunity cost of investing in non-yielding assets, presenting a weak outlook for metal markets.

Beyond the Fed, central bank decisions in China, the UK and Japan are also on tap this week, although only the Bank of England is expected to raise interest rates.

Copper flat amid renewed China jitters

Among industrial metals, copper prices moved little on Monday amid renewed concerns over major importer China, particularly its property market.

Copper futures steadied at $3.7953 a pound, after firming over 2% last week.

While recent economic indicators showed some signs of a recovery in the world’s largest copper importer, China’s property market faces a new test this week with more bond payments due for embattled developer Country Garden Holdings (HK:2007).

Chinese authorities also detained employees of China Evergrande Group's (HK:3333) wealth management unit, spurring concerns over renewed government scrutiny towards the property sector.

The People’s Bank of China is widely expected to keep its loan prime rates at record lows this Wednesday, as it moves to shore up economic growth. But despite stimulative measures, the outlook for China’s property market, which is a key driver of copper demand, remains largely dour.

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