Gold prices edged lower in European trade on Thursday, as market players awaited the outcome of the European Central Bank’s meeting for fresh clues on when it will start to shift away from its ultra-easy policy.
Comex gold futures were at $1,238.68 a troy ounce by 3:20AM ET (0720GMT), down $3.30, or around 0.3%. Gold prices finished a few cents higher on Wednesday, extending their streak of gains to a fourth session.
The ECB’s latest interest rate decision is due at 1145GMT (7:45AM ET) on Thursday, with no big changes expected.
Most of the focus will be on President Mario Draghi’s press conference 45 minutes after the announcement, as investors look for more clues on when and how the ECB could scale back its massive quantitative easing program.
Market experts believe the central bank is likely to wait until September before announcing a tapering of its 60 billion euros of monthly asset purchases.
Earlier in the session, the Bank of Japan kept monetary policy steady as a two-day meeting concluded. The central bank also cut its inflation forecasts for fiscal years 2017/2018 and 2018/2019.
Besides central banks, investors will focus on U.S. data due later in the session to gauge the strength of the world’s largest economy and how it will impact the Fed’s view on monetary policy.
Weekly jobless claims and the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing survey are both due at 8:30AM ET (12:30GMT).
Gold prices have been well-supported in recent sessions amid fading expectations for another rate hike by the Federal Reserve this year.
Futures traders are pricing in less than a 40% chance of a rate hike by December, according to Investing.com’s Fed Rate Monitor Tool, as recent dovish comments from Chair Janet Yellen and soft inflation data raised doubts over whether policymakers will be able to stick to their planned tightening path.
The precious metal is sensitive to moves in U.S. rates, which lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding assets such as bullion.
Also on the Comex, silver futures dipped 11.1 cents, or roughly 0.7%, to $16.18 a troy ounce, after hitting a more than two-week high of $16.34 a day earlier.
Among other precious metals, platinum was down 0.4% at $920.50, while palladium dipped 0.5% to $855.23 an ounce.