February 20, 2017 / 8:14 PM / 3 years ago

PRECIOUS-Gold firms in thin trade as markets await Trump tax plans

    * Markets await speeches by Fed officials this week
    * Biggest gold ETF sees first outflow in nearly four weeks
    * GRAPHIC-2017 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl

 (Adds dollar move, comments, updates prices, adds NEW YORK
    By Devika  Krishna Kumar and Jan Harvey
    NEW YORK/LONDON, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Gold firmed on Monday as
the dollar softened, although trading was thin due to the U.S.
holiday and as markets awaited details on President Donald
Trump's tax policy.
     Market activity is likely to be largely subdued until
guidance on the pace of interest rate hikes from a raft of
Federal Reserve speakers this week.
    Gold is highly sensitive to rising U.S. rates, which
increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion
while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced. 
    Liquidity was thin due to the Presidents Day holiday in the
United States. 
    Spot gold        was up 0.2 percent at $1,238 an ounce by
2:49 EST (1949 GMT), while U.S. gold futures        for April
delivery traded slightly lower at $1,238.50.    
    "We have settled into a $1,220-1,245 range, with activity
expected to be light on Presidents Day," said Saxo Bank's head
of commodity strategy Ole Hansen. 
    "President Trump will continue to be a key source of market
inspiration. Trump's address to the joint session on Capitol
Hill next Tuesday may become the next focus considering he is
expected to lift the curtain on his tax cuts ideas."
    The dollar has lost some support in recent weeks as a lack
of concrete detail dampened post-election euphoria over Trump's
commitment to cutting taxes, easing regulation and boosting
    The euro edged higher against the dollar after a slide in
U.S. bond yields, shrugging off worries over upcoming French
    Wednesday is likely to be most important day of the week –
certainly for the dollar – due to the release of the FOMC's last
meeting minutes, said Fawad Razaqzada, technical analyst for
    The heads of five regional U.S. Federal Reserve banks are
scheduled to speak this week. In addition, Fed Board Governor
Jerome Powell appears on Wednesday, when minutes of the last
policy meeting are also due.            
    Speaking in Singapore on Monday, Cleveland Fed chief Loretta
Mester said she would be comfortable raising rates at this point
if the economy kept performing the way it had.              
    Investor appetite has shown signs of easing since gold hit a
three-month high on Feb. 8. The world's largest gold-backed
exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Shares      , reported an
outflow of 2.4 tonnes on Friday, the first in nearly four weeks.
    Data also showed on Friday that speculators cut their net
long position in COMEX gold for the first time in three weeks in
the week to Feb. 14.             
    "Whether investors continue to rotate away from non-yielding
gold and towards risk assets depends on how soon details of
President Trump's fiscal stimulus plans become clearer, but
overall the equity rally looks to have further to run,"
Mitsubishi said in a note.
    Among other precious metals, silver        was up 0.4
percent at $18.04 an ounce.
    Speculative financial investors have played a major part in
the 13 percent rise in the silver price since the beginning of
the year, Commerzbank said in a note.
    Platinum        was 0.05 percent lower at $1,000.50 and
palladium        was down 0.5 percent at $771.50. Earlier in the
session, palladium dipped to a more than one-week low of $766.

 (Additional reporting by Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing
by Louise Heavens and Tom Brown)
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