March 19, 2018 / 4:42 AM / 4 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold falls for fourth day as dollar stays firm ahead of Fed meeting

    * Investors eye Fed policy projections
    * Platinum touches lowest in over 2 months

 (Updates prices)
    By Eileen Soreng
    March 19 (Reuters) - Gold prices extended losses into a
fourth session on Monday and hit a more than two-week low, with
the dollar remaining supported as investors expect the U.S.
Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this week.
    Spot gold        was down 0.2 percent at $1,310.03 per ounce
at 0735 GMT. Prices fell to $1,307.51 earlier in the session,
their lowest since March 1.
    U.S. gold futures         for April delivery dropped 0.2
percent to $1,309.40 per ounce.
    "I think the overall economic recovery is good enough for
the (U.S.) central bank to consider a faster pace of
normalization of monetary policies," said Mark To, head of
research at Hong Kong's Wing Fung Financial Group.
    A two-day Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting
begins on Tuesday, with the U.S. central bank expected to hike
interest rates for the first time this year.     
    "It is somehow expected and is already priced in the market
so I stick to my prediction that precious metals, with gold
included, are going to have range-bound trading, unless
something really surprising happens," said To.
    With a 25 basis point rate hike seen as a done deal, one key
focus is on whether Fed policy makers forecast four rate hikes
this year instead of the three they had projected at December
meeting.
    Gold is highly sensitive to rising U.S. interest rates,
becoming less attractive to investors as it does not bear
interest.   
    The dollar inched higher against a basket of major peers on
Monday as traders braced for the Fed meeting and as the
increased threat of trade protectionism kept markets on edge.
      
    The dollar index        was up 0.1 percent at 90.302. On
Friday, it hit a two-week high near 90.38, following strong U.S.
economic data.             
    "Potential market headwinds from the underlying
(susceptibility) to risk-appetite, heightened (geo) political
tensions, inflation concerns, Russia tensions, to name a few,
could help keep the floor on gold prices in check," Stephen
Innes, APAC trading head at OANDA, said in a note.    
    Gold speculators cut their net long position by 16,153
contracts to 145,659 contracts, according to the U.S. Commodity
Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data. This was the smallest
net long position since early January.
    Among other precious metals, silver        was down 0.3
percent at $16.26 per ounce and palladium        inched 0.1
percent lower to $993.90 per ounce.
    Platinum        was 0.5 percent lower at $938.49 per ounce
after falling to its lowest since Jan. 3 at $936.50.

 (Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; editing by Joseph
Radford and Subhranshu Sahu)
  
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