March 23 (Reuters) – Gold prices held steady on Wednesday as worries over the Ukraine crisis supported demand for the safe-haven metal, although calls from U.S. Federal Reserve officials for sharper interest rate hikes to combat inflation weighed on market sentiment.
Spot gold was little changed at $1,920.84 per ounce by 0558 GMT. U.S. gold futures were flat at $1,921.30.
“Potential for higher interest rates globally is weighing on (gold). At the same time, the desire for safe havens in the face of the geopolitical conflict in Ukraine is supportive,” said Michael McCarthy, chief strategy officer at Tiger Brokers, Australia.
St. Louis Fed President James Bullard called for the central bank to raise its benchmark overnight interest rate to 3% this year and move aggressively to keep inflation under control.
The market is pricing in a 72.2% probability that the Fed will hike the fed fund rates by 50 basis points in May. Odds for a bigger hike jumped from just over 50% on Monday.
Benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury yields jumped to fresh highs since May 2019.
Gold is sensitive to higher U.S. interest rates and yields, which increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.
The optimism around a Ukraine resolution is starting to fade and that has left some traders thinking that there is potential for a break to the upside, said McCarthy.
The West plans to announce more sanctions against the Kremlin amid a worsening humanitarian crisis despite talks between Ukraine and Russia inching forward.
Spot gold may fall into a range of $1,891-$1,903 per ounce, as the downtrend from the March 8 high of $2,069.89 seems to have continued, according to Reuters’ technical analyst Wang Tao.
In other metals, spot silver was up 0.2% at $24.79 per ounce, platinum shed 0.4% to $1,018.82 and palladium rose 2.9% to $2,556.19.