Gold prices edged higher early Wednesday, as investors adopted a cautious stance ahead of the expected White House signing of a partial agreement between the U.S. and China later in the session.

Doubts that the so-called phase one trade pact will alleviate tensions between Beijing and Washington have kept bullion prices afloat, commodity strategists say. The longstanding trade dispute has stoked uncertainty in markets and have been blamed for weakening global economic expansion, offering a tailwind for gold prices.

Some skepticism about a lasting resolution between China and the U.S., despite a formal signing, has underpinned recent gains for the yellow metal, however. Chinese and U.S. delegates are slated to sign a phase-one trade pact at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time in the White House.

“There is more caution surrounding the deal between the US and China,” wrote Carlo Alberto De Casa, chief analyst at ActivTrades, wrote in a Wednesday report. “Phase One is going to be signed in the next few hours, but investors were expecting more from this part of the agreement,” he wrote.

Indeed, equity markets which have pushed higher in recent weeks on the news of progress between the U.S. and China, have been under pressure overnight due to concerns that the next stage in negotiations will be challenging.

Gold for February delivery

GCG20, +0.42%

 on Comex were up $7.40, or 0.5%, at $1,552 an ounce, after declining for a two straight sessions.

March silver

SIH20, +0.44%

 picked up 9 cents, or 0.5%, at $17.835 an ounce, after shedding 1.4% on Tuesday.

Helping to bolster prices of precious metals are doubts about the substance of the deal and whether it can lead to a genuine detente in subsequent stages between the global superpowers. According to the Wall Street Journal, the first phase of the trade deal will include roughly $200 billion in Chinese purchases of American goods and services over the next two years. However, tariffs on some $360 billion of annual Chinese goods will remain in place, with reports by Bloomberg News of that development on Tuesday causing markets to trim strong gains and turn negative.

“Gold prices have retraced overbought levels and are finding a more stable footing around the mid-$1500s for the time being, with investors eager for details surrounding the expected rollback in tariffs,” wrote Han Tan, Market Analyst at FXTM, in a daily research note.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin during an interview on CNBC Wednesday morning said that additional rollbacks of tariffs on China goods are expected in the second phase of the trade talks but didn’t specify.

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2020-01-15