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PRECIOUS-Gold edges lower on dollar and U.S. rate hike prospects

* SPDR gold holdings fell 1.47 pct on Wednesday
    * U.S. markets shut Thursday for Thanksgiving
    * China's net gold imports up 15.8 pct in October

 (Updates prices, adds comment)
    By Clara Denina 
    LONDON, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Gold edged lower on Thursday as
the dollar traded within reach of an almost 14-year high hit on
positive U.S. economic data, which increased expectations of the
Federal Reserve increasing interest rates in December.
    Fed policymakers appeared confident on the eve of the U.S.
presidential election that the economy was strengthening enough
to warrant rate increases soon, minutes from the central bank's
Nov. 1-2 meeting showed. 
    Spot gold was down 0.1 percent at $1,186.60 an ounce
by 1518 GMT. It dropped 2 percent in the previous session and
touched its lowest since Feb. 8 at $1,180.99 overnight.
    U.S. gold futures eased by 0.2 percent to $1,186.40.
    With U.S. markets closed for the Thanksgiving holiday, trade
is expected to thin down later in the day.
    Spot prices have dropped nearly 12 percent from a high of
$1,337.40 on Nov. 9, when Donald Trump was announced U.S.
president-elect.
    "The expectation that Trump's election would lead to a
longer risk-off period in financial markets was soon overtaken
by the perception that he would be able to boost growth and that
inflation would be accompanied by rising interest rates, which
raised a bearish scenario for gold," said Julius Baer analyst
Carsten Menke.
    "At least in the short term there is some consolidation due
in the dollar and U.S. Treasury yields, and this is something
that should provide gold (with) some support," he added. "Still,
the big risk would be continued selling of investor physical
holdings."  
    Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest
gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 1.47 percent from the
previous day to 891.57 tonnes on Wednesday. Holdings have
declined by more than 5 percent this month.
    The dollar index rose to its highest in nearly 14
years, boosted by data showing new orders for U.S. manufactured
capital goods rebounded in October, before retreating slightly.
  
    Recent positive U.S. economic data has helped to boost the
dollar, pressuring gold prices as investors raise bets on an
interest rate hike that would increase the opportunity cost of
holding non-yielding bullion.
    Investors are now pricing in a nearly 100 percent
probability of a December U.S. rate increase, according to CME
FedWatch, and some investors expect further hikes in 2017.
    "It has been quite painful for gold and what seems to be the
driving force is that a normalisation of U.S. rates is priced to
come faster than what we expected a month ago, so the rise in
the dollar and U.S. yields has weighed on gold," Danske Bank
senior analyst Jens Pedersen said. 
    In other news, top consumer China's net gold imports via
main conduit Hong Kong rose 15.8 percent in October to the
highest in three months, data showed on Thursday. 
    Spot silver rose 0.2 percent to $16.37 an ounce after
falling to its lowest since June in the previous session.
Platinum was down 1.3 percent at $918.50, having earlier
hit a 9-1/2 month low, while palladium rose 0.5 percent
to $736.50. 

 (Additional reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru;
Editing by David Goodman and Mark Potter)
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