Gold started the month at its lowest level of 2018 but rebounded to finish the month up 1.5% at $1,323.10. Silver, which showed volatility through the month ranging from $16.17-$16.76, only finished the month up 0.20% at 16.29. Platinum and palladium both had a very weak March, finishing down 3.6% and 3.0% respectively.
Gold’s performance this month was mainly determined by US – China relations which were already strained and only worsened as the month progressed. On March 1, Trump stated that the US would impose heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. After backlash from the international community and some of his top advisors, Trump scaled back his broad tariffs to focus primarily on China. China threatened retaliation if any tariffs were imposed and the situation dissolved into a tit-for-tat sparring match between Presidents Trump and Xi. On March 22, Trump announced new tariffs on Chinese goods leading to the Dow falling 2.9% in a single trading session. Gold reached the mid-$1,350s range as stocks fell, its highest level of the month.
US economic data also affected gold, although a lot of its influence was overshadowed by the ongoing tension with China. February’s employment data showed a large increase in job creation but less than expected increase in corporate earnings. Consumer Price Index data showed a modest rise in prices and was in line with what was predicted. The combination of significant job growth without a significant increase in spending and wages eased inflation fears and put pressure on gold. The Fed raised interest rates in their March meeting but scaled back the number of hikes they expect for the year. The data helped give gold a boost since it pointed to a more dovish approach in the future.