Gold prices gained in Asia oN Wednesday despite mildly hawkish comments by the Fed chief on the need to raise rates sooner rather than later.
Gold for April delivery on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 0.14% to $1,227.15 a troy ounce, while silver futures for March delivery rose 0.18% to $17.922 a troy ounce. Copper futures gained 0.15% to $2.750 a pound as efforlost 2.0 cents, or about 0.7%, to $2.763 a pound. Mediation efforts to resolve a strike by workers at Billiton (LON:BLT)’s Chilean Escondida mine and regulatory hurdles at the Freeport McMoran’s Indonesian Grasberg mine are underway, but the labor actions have supported prices.
Overnight, gold prices came off the strongest levels of the session in North American morning trade on Tuesday, after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told Congress that waiting too long to raise interest rates would be “unwise” as economic growth continues and inflation rises. Yellen said that even though the Fed expects to hike gradually and to keep policy accommodative, getting rates back to normal levels is important and hikes will be considered ahead.
She added that increases would be evaluated “at upcoming meetings.”
Her comments came in testimony prepared for delivery to the Senate Banking Committee.
Fed fund futures priced in around a 20% chance of a rate hike in March, according to Investing.com’s Fed Rate Monitor Tool, while odds of a June increase was seen at around 70%.
The precious metal is sensitive to moves in U.S. rates, which lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding assets such as bullion, while boosting the dollar in which it is priced. Both a strong dollar and higher interest rates are typically bearish for gold, which is denominated in dollars and struggles to compete with yield-bearing assets when borrowing costs rise.