By Ben St. Clair
LONDON--Gold prices ticked down Friday, as risk appetite failed to materialize despite an escalation in trade tensions between the U.S. and China.
The precious metal was down 0.26% at $12,54.51 a troy ounce in late morning trade, threatening the metal's modest gains this week.
Copper, meanwhile, also edged down by 0.36% to $6,301 a metric ton.
U.S. tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports took effect after midnight Eastern time on Friday. China later retaliated with its own set of tariffs, accusing the U.S. of initiating "the largest trade war in economic history."
Gold's response overall to trade tensions has been muted.
"Gold may even not profit at all from a trade war because prices in the U.S. will probably rise in the case of any escalation due to the import tariffs," analysts at Commerzbank said in a note Friday. The result, the analysts wrote, could lead to faster interest-rate increases from the Federal Reserve, decreasing gold's appeal as it doesn't pay interest.
The dollar's losses this week may have helped gold, as the metal is highly inversely correlated with dollar movements, according to TD Securities, more so than the other precious metals.
The WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the currency against 16 others, has shed 0.16% in the last five days.
Unlike gold, copper has reacted strongly to trade disputes, dropping 13% since the start of the year. The base metal hit its largest weekly loss since 2015, SP Angel analysts said in a note Friday.
The declines came despite continuing labor negotiations in Chile's Escondida mine, the world's largest copper mine, as analysts don't expect a repeat of last year's strike. Still, a union official told Reuters Thursday that the two sides are "far from reaching agreement."
Investors were awaiting U.S. June jobs numbers, out early afternoon in London.
In base metals, zinc was up 0.32% at $2,703.05 a metric ton, aluminum rose 0.07% to $2,081.50 a metric ton, tin was down 0.41% at $19,380 a metric ton, nickel was down 1.83% to $13,935 a metric ton and lead declined 2.01% to $2,319 a metric ton.
Among precious metals, silver edged down 0.06% to $16.01 a troy ounce, platinum was down 0.63% at $838 a troy ounce and palladium was down 0.93% at $942.15 troy ounce.
Write to Ben St. Clair at [email protected]