Wire Service
3 minute read
21 Jun 2019
6:01 pm

Gold glistens as US-Iran tensions fuel flight to safety


The precious metal hit $1,400 an ounce for the first time in almost six years overnight.

File image: iStock

Gold prices struck near six-year highs on Friday as a weaker dollar and escalating US-Iran tensions fuelled a flight to havens, while oil futures built on strong gains.

The week has been an eventful one for stock markets, crude prices and the dollar — and investors still have a key G20 summit to look forward to, hoping for progress on the US-China trade war.

“Gold has been one of the week’s biggest stories, with the precious metal hitting $1,400 (an ounce) for the first time in almost six-years overnight,” noted Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG trading group.

“The gold spike is driven by risk-off sentiment alongside dollar weakness, with overnight talk of a cancelled US strike on Iranian targets highlighting how close we are from a huge ramp-up in conflict between the two nations.”

US President Donald Trump on Thursday approved but then scrapped strikes against Iranian targets, according to a New York Times report.

Oil prices rose further on Friday but the gains were muted compared to a day earlier when crude futures surged about 4.5 percent on rising tensions between the US and Islamic Republic.

Fears of a conflict in the oil-rich Middle East ratcheted up on Thursday when Tehran shot down a US spy drone that it said was violating its airspace, but which Washington said was over international waters.

US authorities then banned American civilian aircraft from the area, and airlines including British Airways, Qantas, KLM and Lufthansa on Friday suspended flights over the Strait of Hormuz, situated close to where the drone incident occurred.

Recent attacks on tankers close to the Strait, a key shipping lane in the Gulf region through which nearly one-third of the world’s oil is transported, sent oil prices surging late last week.

But it was gold’s turn to take centre stage on Friday, with the commodity reaching $1,412.08 an ounce, the highest level since September 2013.

“A slowing global economy, imminent US rate cuts and rising geopolitical tensions provide a near perfect storm for gold bugs — and while this trio of factors remain in place the rally… will remain well supported,” said XTB chief market analyst David Cheetham.

Demand for gold has surged since the Federal Reserve on Wednesday indicated it would likely cut interest rates soon — for the first time in a decade — which sent the dollar tumbling across the board.

By contrast, stock markets have risen strongly this week after the Fed opened the door to a potential interest rate as soon as July.

The dollar’s losses have however been capped with both the ECB and Bank of England also presenting dovish outlooks for eurozone and British interest rates amid growth weakness, in part owing to Brexit uncertainty.

“With central banks having set out their stalls, it’s now over to the presidents of the US and China next week to really blow investors away and push forward with trade talks,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda.

Markets’ focus is firmly on next week’s planned meeting between Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 in Japan.

Trump’s tweet about “a very good telephone conversation” they had this week fuelled hopes for a deal to end their countries’ long-running trade war that has impacted the world economy.

Key figures around 4:30pm

Gold: UP at $1,398.00 an ounce from $1,388.45

Brent North Sea oil: UP 67 cents at $65.12 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 40 cents at $57.47 per barrel

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.2 percent at 7,407.50 points (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.1 percent at 12,339.92 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.1 percent at 5,528.33 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.3 percent at 3,459.04

New York – Dow: UP 0.3 percent at 26,845.17

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.0 percent at 21,258.64 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.3 percent at 28,473.71 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.5 percent at 3,001.98 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1322 from $1.1289 at 2130 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2696 from $1.2702

Dollar/yen: UP at 107.60 yen from 107.27 yen.

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