Gold prices drifted higher on Monday, as investors looked ahead to a busy week of Federal Reserve speakers for fresh clues on the likely trajectory of monetary policy.
Comex gold futures inched up $4.70, or about 0.4%, to $1,292.02 a troy ounce by 3:05AM ET (0805GMT).
Gold futures finished modestly lower in an abbreviated session on Friday to notch a roughly 0.7% weekly decline, its first weekly fall of the past three.
The changing of the guard at the Federal Reserve will be a big focus for investors this week, as both the current chair and next head of the U.S. central bank are scheduled to speak.
Fed governor Jerome Powell appears before the Senate Banking Committee at 9:45AM ET (1445GMT) Tuesday for his confirmation hearing.
The following day, Fed Chair Janet Yellen testifies on the economy at 10AM ET (1500GMT) on Capitol Hill, before the Joint Economic Committee.
Powell is widely expected to sound close to Yellen on monetary policy, but perhaps looser when it comes to banking regulation.
There are a number of other Fed speakers this week, including New York Fed President William Dudley, who also is expected to exit his role next year.
The U.S. central bank is scheduled to hold its final policy meeting of the year on Dec. 12-13, with interest rate futures pricing in a 100% chance of a rate hike at that meeting, according to Investing.com’s Fed Rate Monitor Tool.
However, markets appeared doubtful over the central bank’s ability to raise rates as much as it would like next year due to concern over the sluggish inflation outlook.
Gold is highly sensitive to rising rates, which lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding assets such as bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.
Staying in the U.S., a report on personal income and spending, which includes the personal consumption expenditures inflation data, the Fed’s preferred metric for inflation, will be the highlight of the week.
This week’s calendar also features the second estimate of GDP growth for the third quarter on Wednesday, expected to show a small upward revision from 3.0% to 3.2%.
Reports on ISM manufacturing sector growth, CB consumer confidence, new home sales, pending home sales and monthly auto sales will also be on the agenda.
On the political front, tax reform will likely stay at the forefront, as markets look for any new developments on the Trump Administration’s tax bill.
In other metals trading, silver futures gained 5.7 cents, or 0.3%, to $17.04 a troy ounce, platinum fell 0.2% to $943.90, while palladium shed 0.3% at $989.40 an ounce.
Meanwhile, copper futures slipped 6.1 cents, or 1.9%, to $3.131 a pound.
© Reuters. Gold inches higher at start of busy week