Gold prices dipped from 8-month peaks in mid-February on reports some Russian troops near Ukraine returned to their bases, easing worries over risks of an invasion.
Some troops in Russia’s military districts adjacent to Ukraine are returning to base after completing drills, Russia’s defense ministry was quoted as saying on February 15.
The news also helped strengthen the pound against the dollar in which gold is denominated. Previously heightened concerns over a possible invasion had supported the dollar, seen as a safe-haven currency.
Gold was down 1.3 percent to $1,846.21 per ounce on February 15, after falling from $1,879.48, the highest since June 11.
Fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine had contributed to the recent strength in gold, which can act as a safe haven during times of geo-political turmoil.
“Geopolitical factors – notably the hysteria, as President Putin describes it – over a possible invasion of Ukraine by Russian armed forces, have given something of a boost to gold,” wrote Lawrie Williams, gold market commentator with bullion dealer Sharps Pixley.
“If Russia does invade, then this would likely drive more investors into gold as a safe haven.”
Gold savers also focused on U.S. monetary policy, amid a debate about how aggressively the U.S. central bank, the Federal Reserve, may move to raise interest rates in order to control a surge in inflation, which is now running at an annualised rate of around 7.5 percent.
Aggressive moves to raise rates could weigh on gold: a climate of higher U.S. interest rates erodes the appeal of non-yielding gold, as alternative assets may have stronger returns.
For UK gold savers, the stronger pound against the dollar will make it cheaper to accumulate the yellow metal.
The pound traded at $1.35625, 0.25 percent up on the day and above a one-week trough touched on February 14 at $1.34950 as fears over a Russian invasion of Ukraine buoyed the dollar.
A key focus now will be the extent to which the Bank of England will continue to raise interest rates after two rate rises from historic lows since December.
Analysts said UK inflation numbers due out on February 16 should provide a better sense of the scale of further monetary tightening likely from the UK central bank in the coming months.
Many analysts believe that the UK base rate could rise to 1 percent this year, from 0.5 percent currently, possibly underpinning sterling against the dollar.