PRECIOUS-Gold hits 1-month low as Fed pressured to end stimulus

Fri May 17, 2013 3:02pm EDT

* US gold futures down 1.6 pct, down 5 pct on week

* Traders see more losses, could take market to 2010 level

* Fed officials pressure for stimulus end, driving dollar up

* Strong US consumer data, stock market weigh on gold

* Palladium, platinum outperform (Updates to close of U.S. trading session; adds fresh trader comments, NEW YORK to dateline, new byline)

By Barani Krishnan and Jan Harvey

NEW YORK/LONDON, May 17 (Reuters) - Gold fell for a seventh straight session on Friday, its longest losing streak in four years, as the dollar rose to the highest since 2008 after some Federal Reserve officials said the central bank should end its stimulus for the U.S. economy.

Investors also rejected gold's safe-haven lure after a May reading for U.S. consumer sentiment hit a near six-year high, showing Americans are feeling better about their financial and economic prospects.

Major U.S. stock indexes were on track to close up for a fourth straight week as the dollar rocketed to a 4-1/2-year high against the yen.

At 2:30 p.m. EDT (1810 GMT), bullion's spot price was down 1.6 percent, hovering at a four-week low below $1,364 an ounce.

U.S. gold futures for June delivery settled down 1.6 percent at $1,364.70. For the week, it fell more than 5 percent.

Some traders expected the sell-off to not let up until gold lost between $200 or $300 more per ounce, pushing it back to levels last seen in the first quarter of 2010.

"With a few more hard losing sessions, we could be down to between $1,050 and $1,100. It could happen over two weeks or it could happen in a couple of days if the market plunges $100 a dip," said Frank McGhee, head precious metals trader at Integrated Brokerage Services in Chicago.

"There's heavy rotation of money from gold into the stock market as the U.S. economy keeps getting better and the need for Fed stimulus gets weaker by the day," McGhee added.

A trio of hawkish regional Federal Reserve officials have called on the central bank to stop buying mortgage-backed bonds, citing the recent improvement in the U.S. housing market.

San Francisco Fed chief John Williams, one of the three, said he expected U.S. stimulus action to ease from this summer. Richard Fisher, head of the Dallas Fed, meanwhile, said "the efficacy of continued (bond) purchases is questionable."

Ultra low interest rates and hundreds of billions of dollars of Fed stimulus money have fueled higher prices for gold and other commodities over the past 3 years. Despite better U.S. economic data since the start of this year, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has been reluctant to take his foot off the stimulator pedal, on grounds the recovery has been fragile.

Exchange-traded products in gold -- investment vehicles that give investors exposure to bullion through issuing securities backed by the physical metal -- have seen huge outflows this year.

The largest, New York's SPDR Gold Trust, reported an outflow of another 5.7 tonnes on Thursday, bringing the drop in its holdings this week to more than 10 tonnes.

Physical demand for the metal, which spiked after prices posted their biggest two-day drop in 30 years in April, showed signs of softening.

Buying in India, the main consumer of the precious metal, had fallen significantly from Monday, which saw the celebration of Akshaya Tritiya, one gold trader in Singapore said.

PALLADIUM SHINES

Platinum group metals were the best performers this week, with palladium up 5 percent as refiners, recyclers, consumers and traders attended Platinum Week in London.

Platinum has benefited from concerns about industrial unrest in major producer South Africa. Miners at South Africa's Anglo American Platinum reported for work on Friday, a company spokeswoman said, despite earlier calls for a strike by some union leaders.

Spot platinum was down 1.7 percent at below $1,454 an ounce, while spot palladium was flat at $735.50 an ounce.

Silver tracked gold lower, falling nearly 6.5 percent on the week to $22.29 an ounce. It was down 1.6 percent on the day. (Editing by Alison Birrane and Bob Burgdorfer)

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Comments (1)
paulos777 wrote:
Gold will drop in June or September down to 1000 or so, leaving miners in the lurch. Mining stocks will take the biggest hit, with many going bankrupt or being forced to close down mines en masse.

May 17, 2013 5:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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