Gold investors up the ante before critical Fed decision on rates

SINGAPORE – Gold investors upped the ante in the lead up to the Federal Reserve’s first expected cut to interest rates in more than a decade, adding to exchange-traded fund holdings on speculation that US policy guardians will deliver more than just a one-and-done reduction. Prices were steady.

Holdings in bullion-backed ETFs expanded 4.8 t to 2 350.1 t, the highest since April 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, while silver options showed a spike. Spot bullion was flat near a six-year high ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee’s policy statement at 2 p.m. Washington time.

Gold may be poised for a breakout year, with prices on course for a third monthly gain, as investors anticipate rate cuts from the Fed as growth slows and trade-war frictions bite. Bullion has also drawn investor interest as other risks mount, with tensions rising in Europe over Brexit, and in the Persian Gulf between Iran and western nations. Adding to signals of an economic slowdown, data from China Wednesday showed manufacturing in shrank again in July.

“Gold will look for direction in the tone of the Fed chief’s rhetoric,” Alfonso Esparza, senior market analyst at Oanda Corp, said in a note, referring to remarks from Chairman Jerome Powell that will follow the Fed’s announcement. More-dovish statements “could lead to a weaker dollar and a higher price for gold, but neutral-to-hawkish comments on the economy could lead to a rebound in the dollar, putting downward pressure on the metal.”

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