BENGALURU: Gold prices held steady on Friday as investors’ attention shifted to the US Federal Reserve’s policy meeting due next week for more insights into the interest rate outlook. Spot gold was little changed at $2,016.95 per ounce by 02:15 p.m. ET (1915 GMT), down 0.6% so far this week.

US gold futures settled mostly flat at $2,017.3. “We are seeing the gold market consolidating at the moment as the expectations of rate declines aren’t quite as soon as the market would like,” said David Meger, director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures.

“But underlying theme or the idea that interest rates will come down in 2024 continues to underpin and support the gold market.” Markets widely expect the Fed to leave interest rates unchanged at its policy meeting on Jan. 30-31, but have pared back expectations of a rate cut by March, according to the CME FedWatch Tool.

Lower interest rates decrease the opportunity cost of holding bullion. US prices rose moderately in December, keeping the annual increase in inflation below 3% for a third straight month, which could allow the Fed to start cutting interest rates this year.

Another set of data on Thursday showed the US economy grew faster than projected in the fourth quarter. On the physical side, China’s gold premiums climbed this week as additional stimulus measures aided sentiment, days before Lunar New Year celebrations begin.

In the short-term, the direction of gold and silver will continue to be dictated by incoming economic data and their impact on the dollar, yields and rate cut expectations, said Ole Hansen, Saxo Bank’s head of commodity strategy in a note.

Spot silver lost 0.8% to $22.75 per ounce and headed for its best week in five. Platinum rose 2.6% to $914.33 and palladium gained 1.9% to $958.81, with both on track for a weekly increase.

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