US unrest, Hong Kong tensions in focus

Andrew Rudakov | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Gold prices climbed on Monday as reports of riots in the United States rattled investors already reeling from the deepening China-U.S. rift, fanning concerns of a fresh economic setback and drove traders towards the safe-haven metal.

Spot gold was up 0.6% at $1,736.31 per ounce, as of 1243 GMT. U.S. gold futures were flat at $1,751.30.

Protesters in the United States have flooded the streets over the death of George Floyd in police custody, in a wave of outrage sweeping a politically and racially divided nation.

The closely packed crowds and demonstrators not wearing masks sparked fears of a resurgence of Covid-19, which has killed more than 101,000 Americans.

The retreat from riskier assets followed China’s state media and the government of Hong Kong lashing out at U.S. President Donald Trump’s pledge to end Hong Kong’s special status if Beijing imposes new national security laws on the city.

Factory activity in China grew at a slower pace in May, but momentum picked up in the services and construction sectors — pointing to an uneven recovery in Beijing as businesses emerge from a lockdown. 

Denting risk appetite further were Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s comments on Friday that signaled a potential surge in U.S. coronavirus infections could derail recovery from the downturn caused by the pandemic. 

Speculators cut their bullish positions in COMEX gold, and increased them in silver contracts in the week to May 26, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said on Friday.

Reflecting investor sentiment, SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said its holdings, rose 0.3% to 1,123.14 tonnes on Friday. 

Asian shares inched up on cautious trade.

Palladium inched up 0.1% to $1,947.01 per ounce, and silver rose 1.1% to $18.04, while platinum declined 0.7% to $830.81.

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