Gold Price Forecast: XAU/USD Pulls Back As Probabilities Of Fed Pivot Decline

Gold price retreats back into a normal range in the $1,950-60s in the early European Session on Wednesday. Volatility has drained from markets as banking crisis fears dissipate and bets revive of a rate hike in May. Traders now await big data releases starting with US Q4 GDP and US Jobless Claims on Thursday and, probably most importantly, the US Federal Reserve’s favored inflation gauge, the Personal Consumption Expenditures – Price Index (PCE), on Friday.

Federal Reserve Less Likely To Cut Rates This Year

XAU/USD has pulled back from yesterday’s highs in the mid $1,970s as expectations of the Fed cutting rates later this year have started to fall. The Fed Fund Futures Curve is now only pricing in two instead of three 0.25% rate cuts by the end of 2023. That said, the same indicator still shows a 57% probability that the Fed will not hike rates at the next meeting in May versus a 43% chance it will raise them by 0.25%.

Traders now await the release of the PCE price index for February for greater clarity on the state of inflation and the Fed’s probable next move. Economists’ forecasts are for the Core PCE to decline to 0.4% from 0.6% previously, MoM, and to remain unchanged at 4.7% YoY.

A higher-than-expected Core PCE will suggest inflation remains a problem and prompt the Fed to raise rates more aggressively, and vice-versa for a lower-than-expected result.

Given rates tend to move in the opposite direction to Gold because as they rise, they make remaining in cash more attractive, a higher PCE result will negatively impact Gold price.

Bank Stresses To Return Before The End Of 2023

ING Bank expects XAU/USD to pull back in the short term, in the wake of a final 0.25% rate rise from the Federal Reserve in May, before recovering in the medium term as banking stresses revive and the central bank starts cutting rates before the end of the year.

“While we expect a pullback in prices in the short term, we see Gold prices moving higher over 2H23 and expect spot Gold to average $2,000 over 4Q23. The assumptions around this are that we do not see further deterioration in the banking sector and that the Fed starts cutting rates towards the end of this year,” says ING in its note.

Another view comes from Eric Strand, the AuAg ESG Gold Mining UCITS ETC (ESGO) manager, who sees XAU/USD upside potential from a weaker US Dollar due to an expected divergence between US and European central bank policy. The US Federal Reserve is near the end of its tightening cycle, while the European Central Bank (ECB) is just starting its cycle, claims Strand.

Gold Price Bulls Still Own The Trend

XAU/USD may be meandering in the short term, but it is still in an uptrend from a medium-term perspective. The precious metal’s price continues to make higher highs and lows on the daily chart. Thus, according to the adage, “The trend is your friend until the bend at the end,” the technical outlook favors bulls.

A break above the key $2,009 March top would be required to confirm further upside. The next target for Gold price would lie at the $2,070 March 2022 high.

The key $1,934 March 22 swing low must hold for Gold bulls to retain the advantage. Yet, a break and close daily below that level would introduce doubt into the overall bullish assessment of the trend. Such a move would probably see a sharp decline to support at $1,990 supplied by the 50-day Simple Moving Average (SMA).

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