Gold prices have edged lower, pressured by a recovering US dollar and an expectation of higher interest rates, but supported by safe-haven buying after the sudden dismissal of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Spot gold declined 0.1 per cent at $US1,324.40 per ounce in afternoon trade, earlier touching $US1,330.02, its highest since March 7.

US gold futures for April delivery settled $US1.50 or 0.1 per cent lower, at $US1,325.60 per ounce.

‘The political uncertainty has limited the downside price risk for gold in a raising rates environment, as opposed to driving prices significantly higher,’ said Suki Cooper, Standard Chartered Bank precious metals analyst.

Rising interest rates tend to make gold less attractive since it does not bear interest.

Technical Fibonacci support for gold was at $US1,317.20 an ounce with resistance at $US1,336.30, said analysts at ScotiaMocatta in a note.

Gold is seen as a safe haven during times of political and financial uncertainty and benefited on Tuesday when President Donald Trump fired Tillerson after a series of public rifts over policy, replacing him with loyalist CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Investors have switched to become more risk-averse following the unexpected news of Tillerson’s dismissal and the appointment of Pompeo, said OCBC analyst Barnabas Gan.

The US dollar inched higher against major currencies, recovering from a decline caused by the dismissal of Tillerson.

A stronger dollar makes commodities priced in the greenback more expensive for holders of other currencies.

‘Pompeo is a supporter of Trump’s trade policy and could help advance his agenda of imposing it on US trading partners … all this uncertainty and risk aversion leaves gold as a safe haven option,’ Gan added.

Supporting gold was news that Trump was seeking to impose tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese imports and will target the technology and telecommunications sectors.

Meanwhile, data on Tuesday showed US consumer prices cooled in February amid a decline in gasoline prices and a moderation in the cost of rental accommodation, the latest indication that an anticipated pick-up in inflation probably will be gradual.

Inflation is a key economic factor the US central bank considers when deciding monetary policy. A strong US inflation reading could raise expectations for future interest rate increases, pressuring on non-yielding bullion.