Gold drops from two-week high on vaccine news, US stimulus outlook

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Gold declined from near the highest in two weeks as investors weighed vaccine rollouts amid surging coronavirus infections in some parts of the world against fresh hopes for a stimulus deal in the US.

US regulators gave early indications they may grant emergency-use authorization to Pfizer's vaccine, calling the shot highly effective with no safety issues. Britain became the first country to start administering the vaccine, kicking off the western world’s Covid immunization campaign.

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin presented a new $916 billion Covid-19 relief proposal to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in the first move by the Trump administration since Election Day to break a months-long standoff. Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said that it’s progress that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had signed off on the offer, but the proposal’s unemployment insurance position is “unacceptable”.

While vaccine developments have curbed haven demand, bullion is still heading for the biggest annual gain in a decade amid the unprecedented amounts of stimulus used to cushion economies from the pandemic’s impact. Top central banks are embarking on fresh waves of bond-buying, with the European Central Bank expected to increase its purchase plans when it meets on Thursday.

“With the US elections over and the advent of vaccines, central bankers may re-evaluate their policies vis-à-vis the effects of mass inoculations” and stimulus with less urgency, said Avtar Sandu, a senior manager for commodities at Phillip Futures Pte. Ultra-low yields and negative real interest rates are however expected to remain, and this should provide support for gold in the long term, he said.

Spot gold declined 0.7% to $1 856.99 an ounce at 12:22 p.m. in Singapore, after climbing to $1 875.39 on Tuesday, the highest intraday level since November 23. 

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