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Gold slides to 10-1/2-month low on dollar's post-Fed surge

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) - Gold fell more than 1 percent to a 10-1/2-month low on Thursday after the Federal Reserve sounded an unexpectedly hawkish note on U.S. interest rates, sparking a surge in Treasury yields and sending the dollar to a 14-year high.

A saleswoman checks the weight and quality of gold jewellery inside a showroom in Mumbai, India, August 13, 2015. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade

Lifting the federal funds rate to a 0.50-0.75 percent range on Wednesday, the U.S. central bank flagged a faster pace of hikes next year as it geared up for the incoming Trump administration’s pledges to cut taxes and boost spending.

That sparked a rally in the dollar, pressuring assets priced in the currency, while U.S. Treasury yields soared, lifting the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding gold.

“The Fed was more hawkish than expected, which re-started this dollar rally,” ABN Amro analyst Georgette Boele said. “With yields rising in the United States and the dollar massively up, that’s the worst possible combination for gold.”

Spot gold XAU= hit a 10-1/2-month low of $1,122.35 an ounce, and was down 1.2 percent at $1,130.72 by 3:03 p.m. EST (2003 GMT). U.S. gold futures GCv1 for February delivery settled down 2.9 percent at $1,129.80, showing a stronger decline as it had settled positive on Wednesday prior to the Fed statement.

“The latest move in short-term U.S. Treasury yields suggests that the price of gold has further to fall,” said Caroline Bain, chief commodities economist for Capital Economics, cautioning that “higher nominal yields need not necessarily be negative for gold if they reflect rising inflation expectations.”

Bullion had already fallen sharply in the run-up to the Fed meeting after Republican candidate Donald Trump’s election to the U.S. presidency sparked a rally in the dollar and a rise in assets seen as higher risk, like stocks, at gold’s expense.

Holdings of the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Shares GLD, are down about 10 percent from mid-November.

“While our house view remains for two rate hikes in 2017, we acknowledge risks of a faster pace,” said UBS Wealth Management Research in a note, adding that it cut its three-month gold price forecast to $1,100-$1,250 and 12-month to $1,300, from $1,350.

Meanwhile, silver XAG= was down 5.2 percent at $15.95 an ounce, after falling to hit its lowest since June 1 at $15.82.

Platinum XPT= was 2.8 percent lower at $897.60, after falling to $885, the lowest since early February. Palladium XPD= was down 2.3 percent at $703, after sinking to a one-month low at $693.90.

Additional reporting by Swati Verma and Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; editing by David Evans and Chizu Nomiyama