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Gold eases as dollar rebounds on rate rise expectations

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) - Gold edged lower on Thursday and was vulnerable to further weakness as the dollar rebounded and ahead of a widely anticipated U.S. interest rate rise next week.

Gold products are displayed for sale at a shop in Hanoi December 3, 2015. REUTERS/Kham

The Federal Reserve is expected to raise rates for the first time in nearly a decade at its next policy meeting on Dec. 15-16. Higher rates should dent demand for non-interest-paying gold, which has already lost 9 percent of its value this year and is on track for its third year of losses.

Spot gold XAU= was down 0.1 percent at $1,071.96 an ounce at 2:44 p.m. EST (1944 GMT), while U.S. gold futures GCcv1 for February delivery settled down 0.4 percent at $1,072.50 an ounce.

Bullion prices traded at the low end of the prior session’s range in quiet dealings ahead of next week’s Fed meeting.

“Standing aside and being cautious is the prudent thing to do,” said David Morgan, founder of in Spokane, Washington.

The metal slid to $1,045.85, its lowest since February 2010, last week, when the dollar spiked to its highest level in 12-1/2 years following Fed chair Janet Yellen’s hint at a U.S. rate rise this month.

“Although a U.S. rate hike should be priced in, gold’s initial reaction will be to the downside,” Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann said.

The dollar rose 0.6 percent against a basket of leading currencies, while a slide in oil prices to a near-seven-year low, added to pressure on gold.

Weakness in oil could trigger fears of deflation, a bearish factor for gold, which is often used as a hedge against oil-led inflation.

“Given the level of distress across the commodities complex, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a test towards the $1,000 level,” ING Bank senior strategist Hamza Khan said.

In physical markets, gold premiums in India fell this week but buying interest in China remained strong.

Silver XAG= fell 0.3 percent to $14.10 an ounce.

Platinum XPT= fell 0.1 percent to $855.95 an ounce, after touching a seven-year low last week, and palladium XPD= dropped 1.5 percent to $539.73 an ounce.

“Selling pressure from deleveraging and short selling, combined with an absence of buying interest, seems to be behind (platinum and palladium) price weakness as buyers have stepped to the sidelines to buy on a hand-to-mouth basis,” Scotiabank said.

“Given the significant sell-off in prices in 2015, we believe 2016 will see prices recover and that in turn is likely to prompt bargain hunting and restocking.”

Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; editing by Jane Merriman and Cynthia Osterman