Gold prices were mixed on Monday amid some uncertainty over U.S. monetary policy, while copper prices retreated sharply as major importer China set a weaker-than-expected GDP target for 2023, undermining expectations of a strong recovery in demand. Bullion prices were aided by a drop in the dollar last week, breaking a five-week losing spree as traders reassessed their expectations for U.S. interest rate hikes this year. Spot gold fell 0.2% to $1,852.26 an ounce, while gold futures rose 0.2% to $1,858.15 an ounce by 19:19 ET (00:19 GMT). Both instruments rose over 2% in the past week. Pressure from the dollar on metal markets was back in play on Monday, as the greenback steadied after a sharp drop on Friday. Benchmark U.S. Treasury yields also hovered just below the 4% level. Markets bet that the Federal Reserve’s target rate will likely peak in the coming months, before the bank either pauses or reverses its hawkish stance due to increased economic pressure. But the prospect of slowing economic growth weighed heavily on copper prices, adding to pressure from a soft GDP target from China. Chinese government officials over the weekend forecast that the economy would expand by 5% in 2023, after a 3% rise in 2022.
Copper Futures Sank 0.5% to $4.0557 a Pound.
Analysts at ING called the Chinese forecast “softer-than-expected”, stating that the government likely recognized that external demand for Chinese exports was weakening, which would in turn dent local activity. The forecast also ramped up fears that a recovery in China will not be as robust as initially thought, even as the country relaxed most anti-COVID measures earlier this year. But business activity in the world’s second-largest economy surged to pre-COVID levels in February, data showed last week. The reading had triggered strong gains in copper, which the red metal now appears to have largely reversed. Other precious metals were a mixed bag, amid continued uncertainty over where exactly U.S. rates will peak. Platinum futures fell 0.2% to $977.30 an ounce, while silver futures rose 0.3% to $21.308 an ounce. Rising interest rates bode poorly for metal markets, given that they drive up the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding assets. Focus this week is on a testimony by Fed Chair Jerome Powell, as well as U.S. nonfarm payrolls data for February.