Customers at a jewellery shop in the Sharjah Central Souq. Leading gold retail chains say the higher premium on ensuring delivery has not been passed on to showroom prices. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

London: Gold held steady on Wednesday, consolidating in a tight range, with the US Federal Reserve’s dovish stance on monetary policy offering limited support, while palladium stayed above the key $1,550 level and not far from its record high.

Spot gold was unchanged at $1,327.62 per ounce at 1119 GMT, moving in a narrow range of around $4, while US gold futures were flat at $1,329.40.

“The Fed is clearly in a dovish mode, but it has been less potent than normal because the dollar hasn’t depreciated as much as it normally would have,” said Macquarie commodity strategist Matthew Turner.

“Gold is a bit like riding a bicycle, you have to keep going forward to stay balanced, there has to be some story to be up a bit, and right now, we don’t have that story.” Gold has gained about 15 per cent from a more than one-and-half-year low touched in mid-August last year.

Providing a solid foundation for bullion was US Fed chairman Jerome Powell’s reiteration that the central bank would remain “patient” while deciding the future of interest rates.

The dollar was little changed on Wednesday, but remained near a three-week low after shedding 0.4 per cent post Powell’s overnight comment.

“In the very near term, we do have this major question mark around the trade tensions. If there were to be an agreement, it would provide a short-term boost to risky assets and that’s a headwind for gold,” Capital Economics analyst Ross Strachan said.

On investors’ radar is US-China trade relations, with US President Donald Trump indicating he may soon sign a deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping to end a dispute blamed for slowing global economic growth.

Meanwhile, spot palladium shed 0.2 per cent to $1,556.67 per ounce, but held close to a record peak of $1,565.09 scaled in the previous session.

The autocatalyst metal has climbed 23 per cent this year on widening supply tightness in the market, while threats of strikes by mineworkers in South Africa added further support.

However, analysts suggest the strong rally in prices within a short span could trigger a correction, with the metal now slipping into overbought territory.

Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest palladium producer, said tighter emissions regulations in all major markets and flattish primary supply would widen a palladium deficit in 2019.

Elsewhere, silver fell 0.8 per cent to $15.81 per ounce, while platinum rose to its highest since early November at $866.97.