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Gold pressured by hawkish Fed, copper slammed by China COVID woes

By Ambar Warrick

Investing.com– Gold prices rose slightly on Friday, but were set to end the week lower as hawkish comments from Federal Reserve officials boosted the dollar with the prospect of more interest rate hikes, while concerns over rising COVID-19 cases in China walloped copper.

Bullion prices were also subject to some profit taking after they raced to a near three-month high earlier this week. Concerns over an escalation in the Russia-Ukraine conflict drove safe haven demand for the yellow metal earlier this week, although a de-escalation in tensions swiftly reversed this.

Spot gold rose 0.2% to $1,764.27 an ounce, while gold futures rose 0.2% to $1,766.20 an ounce by 01:02 ET (06:02 GMT). Both instruments were set to lose about 0.3% this week.

Gains earlier this week were swiftly cut short by strength in the dollar and Treasury yields, after a slew of Fed speakers suggested that while the central bank will hike rates at a slower pace in the coming months, it is far from pausing its rate hikes.

Most recently, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said that the central bank still needs to keep lifting interest rates, given that its moves so far only had “limited effects on observed inflation.”

Bullard said the Fed’s target rate needs to rise by at least another 150 basis points to be enough to curb price pressures. His comments also came after stronger-than-expected retail sales data this week showed that inflation was likely to remain stubborn in the near-term.

While data released earlier this month showed U.S. inflation eased more than expected in October, price pressures still remained well above the Fed’s annual target of 2%. The central bank signaled that bringing inflation closer to its target is its main priority – a move that is likely to batter metal markets in the coming months.

Gold prices fell sharply from 2022 highs as rising interest rates pushed up the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding assets. Other precious metals also saw similar losses, while the ensuing economic slowdown weighed on demand for industrial metals.

Copper prices fell sharply this week as the global economic outlook worsened amid rising interest rate expectations and a fresh COVID-19 outbreak in China.

Copper futures rose 0.4% on Friday, but were set to lose nearly 6% this week- their worst performance since late-August.

China, the world’s largest copper importer, is grappling with its worst outbreak in seven months, which has caused widespread disruption in the country. The country is now expected to see a further cooling in economic activity due to COVID lockdown measures.

Slowing demand in China weighed heavily on copper prices this year, largely offsetting signs of tightening supply due to weaker production in Chile and Peru.

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