Gold price was little changed on Friday,as investors eyed next week’s U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting for more clarity on whether the central bank would dial back its massive stimulus.
The Fed’s bond buying is tantamount to printing money and a pull back in the scheme would hurt gold’s appeal as a hedge against inflation. Bullion,down 17 percent for the year,has already been hit by outflows from gold exchange-traded funds and signs of softening demand in key buyers India and China.
“There is uncertainty about the Fed tapering,” said Brian Lan,managing director of Singapore-based dealer GoldSilver Central Pte Ltd. “With unemployment rates still high,I don’t think they will remove the easing that soon,maybe next year,” he added,referring to data last week showing unemployment ticking up slightly in May.
But in a recent indication of resilience,data showed U.S. retail sales rose more than expected in May and first-time applications for unemployment benefits fell last week,which could prompt the Fed to start winding down its stimulus.
Spot gold was flat at $1,385.40 an ounce by 0645 GMT after dropping slightly on Thursday. U.S. gold rose about $7.20 to $1,385.
Physical demand in India and China,the world’s top two bullion buyers,is slowing from peak levels seen after the April sell-off in the precious metal.
Net gold imports into India fell from an average of $135 million in the first half of May to $36 million in the second half,the finance minister said.
The government has raised the import duty on gold and curbed gold financing in an effort to cut its current account deficit.
China saw some demand during the long holiday earlier this week but not enough to support gold prices,dealers in Hong Kong said.
Shanghai gold futures dropped about 0.4 percent on Friday after declining 1.5 percent the day before.
Holdings in SPDR Gold Trust,the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund,fell 0.63 percent to 1,003.53 tonnes on Thursday — their lowest since February 2009.