June 1, 2016 / 1:32 AM / 2 years ago

Gold turns negative as dollar cuts losses after U.S. data

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) - Gold turned negative on Wednesday, as the dollar briefly pared losses following U.S. manufacturing data and U.S. equities came off their lows, while the market tried to assess how close the Federal Reserve is to raising interest rates.

Gold bars are seen at the Austrian Gold and Silver Separating Plant 'Oegussa' in Vienna, Austria, March 18, 2016. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Data showed U.S. manufacturing activity expanded for a third straight month in May, but growth in new orders slowed further as factories grappled with sluggish overseas demand and weak capital spending in the energy sector.

Spot gold XAU= was down 0.4 percent at $1,210.31 an ounce by 2:50 p.m. EDT (1850 GMT), falling for the tenth out of the last 11 sessions. Gold shed around 6 percent in May, its biggest decline in six months.

U.S. futures for August delivery GCv1 settled down 0.2 percent at $1,214.70 an ounce.

“There is increasing expectation that there will be a (U.S.) rate hike by July and that has weighed on sentiment,” ETF Securities analyst Nitesh Shah said.

“In the short term, the rate hike will be dollar positive and gold-price negative.”

Later on Wednesday, the Fed’s Beige Book report pointed to rising labour costs, potentially making policymakers more comfortable that inflation is on track to rise to the central bank’s 2 percent target.

Higher U.S. rates would raise the opportunity cost of holding gold, and lift the dollar, making gold more expensive for buyers in other currencies.

The U.S. dollar hit its lowest level in two weeks against the yen but pared losses against the euro, yen, and Swiss franc after the U.S. manufacturing data. [USD/]

“Gold should have rallied with the dollar selling off,” said Phillip Streible, senior commodities broker for RJO Futures in Chicago.

“If we can’t rally off the bullish news, we’ve got a patient on life support.”

Bullion has climbed nearly 15 percent so far this year, but buckled after minutes from the Fed’s April meeting boosted expectations for monetary tightening.

Analysts said further losses were possible, exposing psychological support at $1,200.

“Gold is likely to continue its outperformance relative to silver for the time being but we still think it’s too early to ‘buy the dip’ outright, particularly ahead of Friday’s deluge of U.S. data,” ICBC Standard Bank said in a note, referring to upcoming non-farm payrolls, earnings, unemployment, services PMI and factory orders data.

Spot silver XAG= was down 0.3 percent at $15.93 per ounce. Spot platinum XPT= was down 1.1 at $966.24, while palladium XPD= fell 0.2 percent to $545.26.

Additional reporting by Vijaykumar Vedala in Bengaluru; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli

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