US dollar drops amid speculations over Fed's waning monetary tightening

US dollar eases in Asian trade on expectations of Fed pause

Gold Edges Higher As Dollar Slips

USA gold futures gained 0.6 percent to $1,293.90 per ounce.

Spot gold was up about 0.6 percent at $1,292.41 per ounce as of 1254 GMT.

Gold rose and palladium hit a record high on Monday as the dollar was dented by expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve would halt its rate-hiking cycle for the year, lifting demand for the metals from holders of other currencies.

"The dollar is weak, aiding gold".

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On Friday, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell told the American Economic Association that the US central bank is not on a preset path of interest rate hikes and that it will be sensitive to the downside risks markets are pricing in. He said on Monday the Fed may only need to raise interest rates once in 2019, citing business executives' nervousness about the economy and a global slowdown as factors that may hold the USA central bank back.

In currency markets, the dollar index.DXY, which tracks the greenback versus the euro, yen, sterling and three other currencies, was down 0.54 percent at 95.66 amid the diminished expectations for further USA rate hikes. Gold gains when expectations of interest rate hikes ease because lower rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion and weigh on the dollar, in which it is priced. "Even with equity markets stabilising, gold has held a bid suggesting that there's sovereign buying in the background", said Stephen Innes, APAC trading head at OANDA.

"But in the unlikely case that stock markets start to draw more affection from investors, gold could struggle over the near term to regain momentum and prices could slip aggressively".

Meanwhile, global equities which were initially perturbed by investors' concerns of an economic slowdown were boosted by Powell's dovish stance and staged a relief rally.

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An upbeat U.S. non-farm payrolls report on Friday showed 312,000 net new jobs were created in December, while wages rose at a brisk annual pace of 3.2 percent.

An index of world stocks rose on Monday, adding to Friday's strong gains, on optimism about the outcome of trade talks between Washington and Beijing.

U.S. officials are meeting their counterparts in Beijing this week for the first face-to-face talks since U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed in December to a 90-day truce in a trade war that has roiled global markets.

Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund (ETF), saw some outflows on Friday.

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Among other precious metals, palladium was down 0.3 percent at $1,296.99 per ounce. Silver edged 0.1 per cent lower to $15.63 per ounce, while platinum rose 0.2 per cent to $823.50, having touched highest in more than a month at $831.10 on Monday.

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