By Barani Krishnan
Investing.com – It’s all a sense of deja vu and investors in gold aren’t really liking it.
Stronger-than-expected U.S. inflation and labor data released Thursday ran contrary to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s testimony to Congress that U.S. economic growth was under threat, and hence a rate cut was needed. Just a month ago, Powell began turning dovish, signaling for easing from the fed, before the central bank decided to hold rates at its last meeting in June.
Spot gold, reflective of trades in bullion, traded at $1,407.15 per ounce by 2:33 PM ET (18:33 GMT), down $11.80, or 0.8%, on the day. It hit a one-week high of $1,427.06 before retreating.
Gold futures for August delivery, traded on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, settled down $5.80, or 0.4%, at $1,406.70. Its pre-settlement peak was $1,428.95, a high since July 3.
Core consumer prices, that exclude volatile food and energy costs, increased by the most in nearly one-and-a-half years in June, according to data released on Thursday. The unexpected tick higher to 2.1% pushes the reading slightly past the Federal Reserve’s target of 2.0%.
“It would, of course, be ironic if inflation became interesting just as the Fed was abandoning such concerns,” said Timothy Duy, director of the Oregon Economic Forum.
Powell strongly signaled for a second day in a row in his testimony to the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday that the Fed could lower rates to safeguard the U.S. economy from the risks of trade disputes and slowing global growth.
“The bottom line is the economy is in a very good place, and we want to use our tools to keep it there”, said the Fed chair, who vowed to “act as appropriate to sustain the expansion” of U.S. growth.
Investors have rushed into gold over the past two months, pushing the yellow metal from $1,200 levels to $1,400, as talk of a rate cut, will weaken the dollar and boost gold, came into play. The Dollar Index, which pits the greenback against a basket of currencies, fell to a near one-week low of 96.41 on Thursday.
Powell has been under tremendous pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump, who has all but threatened to fire him if he doesn’t authorize a rate cut soon. The Fed chief has maintained that he will not be politically cowed and will not resign even if Trump demands it.
Investing.com's Fed Rate Monitor Tool suggests a 100% chance the Fed will cut its key federal funds rate from 2.25%-2.5% to 2%-2.25% in July.
Yet, until Powell’s testimony this week to Congress, some market participants had scaled back expectations for a July cut after a 224,000-strong jobs growth in June signaled the economy might be too strong for an easing. The original forecast for jobs growth in June was only 160,000.