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Gold closes slightly higher in choppy trade, after China devalues yuan

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Investing.com — Gold futures closed slightly higher following a day of unpredictable, see-saw trading, as China lowered the value of its currency by almost 2% marking its most significant devaluation in more than two decades.

In overnight trading, the People’s Bank of China devalued the renminbi to 6.2298 against the dollar on Tuesday, resulting in a 1.9% adjustment from Monday’s level of 6.1162 versus the greenback. In response, the Chinese yuan suffered its worst one-day decline in more than a decade and fell to its lowest in three years since the central bank widened the trading band against the dollar in April, 2012.

It represents the sharpest one-day loss since China abandoned its currency peg for a managed float in January, 1994, as part of a broader series of reforms to promote a new “socialist market economy.” During the seminal event more than 20 years ago, China devalued the yuan 33% to 8.7% against the dollar. A central bank maintains a managed float system by periodically intervening to change the value of its currency in periods of severe economic volatility.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for December delivery surged to $1,118.90 an ounce, its highest level since July 20, before falling back to $1,108.60, up 4.50 or 0.40%. Gold futures wavered between $1,093,40 and $1,118.90 during a choppy day of trading. In spite of the late sell-off, gold still closed at its highest level since late-July.

The Chinese central bank unexpectedly devalued the yuan on Tuesday in an effort to boost exports and jumpstart an economy, which is currently experiencing its slowest level of growth in more than a decade. Since the beginning of June, Chinese equities markets have reportedly lost approximately $2 to $3 trillion in value.

Over the weekend, the bank reported that Chinese exports in July plummeted by 8.3%, marking its sharpest drop in more than three months. Then, on Monday, China said its Producer Price Index also plunged 5.4% last month, extending its longstanding streak of monthly declines to 40.

While China maintains a strict export ban on gold, widespread rumors persist on how metal dealers throughout the nation can exploit loopholes in the regulations by shipping out gold in plain jewelry to Hong Kong, where it is melted and turned back into gold bullion. China is the world’s largest producer and second-largest consumer of the precious metal behind India.

Last year China’s export total soared above $2.34 trillion, according to the International Monetary Fund’s Economic Outlook Database, an increase of 48.5% since 2010. A year earlier, China became the world’s largest exporter of goods surpassing the U.S. In 2014, China’s exports accounted for 13.3% of its total output, according to the IMF.

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Earlier in July, tumbled to a five and a half year low at $1,073.70 an ounce, amid strong indications from the Federal Reserve that it is ready to raise short-term interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade. On Monday, a pair of Fed governors sent mixed signals on the possibility of a September rate hike. Fed governor Stanley Fischer indicated that it could be difficult to increase rates as long-term inflation continues to remain low, while Federal Reserve of Atlanta president Dennis Lockhart said the economy is close to returning to normal levels, justifying an imminent rate hike.

Gold, which is not attached to dividends or interest rates, struggles to compete with high-yield bearing assets in periods of rising rates.

Silver for September delivery fell 0.022 or 0.14% to 15.27 an ounce.

Copper for September delivery plunged 0.070 or 2.90% to 2.330 a pound. China is the world’s largest consumer of , accounting for approximately 40% of the world’s consumption.

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