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Spot gold was down 0.5% at $1,278.11 per ounce, having touched its highest since May 17 at $1,287.32 in the previous session.
U.S. gold futures were also down 0.5% at $1,277.30 an ounce.
“The gold market is clearly lacking direction at the moment. There is uncertainty in financial markets, which is positive for gold. At the same time, the gold market continues to face headwinds from a stronger U.S. dollar,” Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke said.
“Despite these trade tensions, gold is not attracting any safe-haven flows at the moment.”
The dollar rose 0.2% against a basket of leading currencies after touching its lowest since May 16 at 97.546 on Friday, emerging as the preferred hedge from the trade tensions, repeating a trend seen last year.
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday in a news conference with Japanese President Shinzo Abe that he was “not ready to make a deal with China”, denting hopes of a trade agreement between the world’s biggest economies.
The dollar has also benefited from a slide in the euro, driven lower by political risks in Europe following last week’s European Union parliamentary elections, which showed a polarisation of the 28-member bloc.
Limiting gold’s declines, however, were concerns about the budget deficit in Italy, which weighed on European shares, with broad uncertainties over trade and economic growth denting investor enthusiasm towards riskier assets.
Also supporting bullion were increasing bets on an interest rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve, following a couple of weak economic readings from the United States late last week.
Lower interest rates tend to be supportive for gold, as it reduces the opportunity cost of holding the non-yielding asset.
Signals are mixed for spot gold as it failed twice to break a resistance at $1,286 per ounce, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.
“From a technical point of view, we would have a first positive signal above $1,290, with space in this case for further rallies to $1,300, while the first support levels are placed at $1,270 and $1,266,” said ActivTrades analyst Carlo Alberto De Casa in a note.