PRECIOUS-Gold eases toward 2-month low on stronger dollar, equities

Mon Aug 25, 2014 2:23pm EDT

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By Chris Prentice and Clara Denina

NEW YORK/LONDON, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Gold slipped on Monday, hovering near its lowest in two months, under pressure from a stronger U.S. dollar and from rallying global financial markets.

Gold fell 0.3 percent at $1,277.19 an ounce by 1:52 p.m. EDT (1752 GMT). The metal last week posted a weekly loss of 1.8 percent, its biggest such fall in a month, after it set a two-month low at $1,273.06 on Thursday, hurt by strong U.S. economic data and speculation of an early interest rate increase.

U.S. gold futures closed down $1.30 at $1,278.90 an ounce. Electronic trading was halted for four hours on Monday due to a technical glitch.

The U.S. dollar gained, weighing on dollar-denominated commodities as it makes them more expensive for holders of other currencies.

The U.S. benchmark S&P breached the 2,000 mark for the first time as expectations that the European Central Bank would move to boost economic growth sent global financial markets shooting higher.

"Equity markets continue to be strong, robbing gold of the opportunity to go higher," said HSBC precious metals analyst James Steel.

Even so, price moves and trading volumes were subdued throughout the day. The metal held above chart support around $1,270, traders said, as liquidity was drained by the absence of British players on a holiday-lengthened weekend.

At a gathering of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen last week stressed the need to move cautiously on raising rates. Higher interest rates would hurt the attractiveness of non-interest-bearing assets such as gold.

PHYSICAL BUYING

Falling bullion prices attracted buying from jewellers in Asia, but the amount was limited and investors stayed on the sidelines, traders said.

Premiums for gold bars in Hong Kong stood at 70 cents to $1.10 to spot London prices, higher than 50 cents to $1.00 quoted late last week because of purchases from jewellers.

July net gold flows into China from Hong Kong dropped to 22.107 tonnes versus 40.543 tonnes in June, their lowest for three years, due to ample supply and as jewellers waited for bargains, data showed on Monday.

Tracking gold, silver was down 0.3 percent to $19.35 an ounce, after matching but breaching Thursday's two-month low of $19.25.

Spot platinum slipped 0.2 percent to $1,413.50 an ounce, having touched its lowest since May 5 at $1,407.30 last week.

Platinum producer Lonmin aims to cut about 21 percent of its South African workforce, or around 5,700 jobs, in a bit to restore profits, sources said.

Spot palladium edged up 0.3 percent at $886 an ounce. (Additional reporting by Lewa Pardomuan in Singapore; Editing by Dale Hudson, David Evans and Marguerita Choy)

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