December 7, 2017 / 11:08 AM / a year ago

PRECIOUS-Gold hits 4-month low as firmer dollar sparks range break

    * Gold touches lowest since Aug. 8 at $1,254.51/oz
    * Platinum on track for biggest weekly loss in 9 months
    * GRAPHIC-2017 asset returns:

 (Updates throughout, adds LONDON dateline)
    By Jan Harvey
    LONDON, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Gold slid to its lowest in four
months on Thursday as a bounce in the dollar sparked by optimism
over U.S. tax reform plans pushed the metal out of its recent
narrow trading range. 
    The metal had been hemmed between $1,265 and $1,300 an ounce
since mid-October as a series of record highs in stock markets
detracted investment interest from bullion, and as traders
awaited an expected U.S. interest rate hike this month. 
    It broke out of that range this week, extending losses after
slipping below its 200-day moving average at $1,267 an ounce. 
    Spot gold        was down 0.6 percent at $1,255.85 an ounce
at 1055 GMT, off an earlier four-month low of $1,254.51. U.S.
gold futures        for December delivery were down $8.20 an
ounce at $1,257.90.
    "We've had a (breakdown) of support at $1,260, which is a
key level," ActivTrades chief analyst Carlo Alberto de Casa
said. "From a technical point of view, many traders had
stop-losses just below $1,262, and today the market is going
down for this reason." 
    Strength in the dollar is feeding into this, he said. "The
fact that the U.S. dollar is recovering isn't very welcome for
the commodities market."
    The dollar touched a two-week high on Thursday on optimism
that the United States would successfully push through tax
reforms, while world shares rebounded after two straight days of
    U.S. Senate Republicans agreed on Wednesday to talks with
the House of Representatives on sweeping tax legislation,
raising hopes that lawmakers could agree on a final bill ahead
of a Dec. 22 deadline.             
    Gold is now awaiting further direction from U.S. non-farm
payrolls data later this week, a key barometer for the health of
the U.S. economy. Next week the Federal Reserve is also expected
to announce another U.S. interest rate hike, and to guide on the
pace of further increases. 
    Gold is highly sensitive to rising U.S. rates, as these
increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion,
while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.  
    "Both the fundamentals and the technicals in gold look
somewhat bearish at the moment, and we suspect that we could
move slightly lower heading into next week's critical Federal
Reserve meeting," INTL FCStone analyst Ed Meir said.      
    Among other precious metals, silver        was down 0.4
percent at $15.90 an ounce after earlier slipping to its lowest
since mid-July at $15.82. 
    Platinum        was 0.3 percent lower at $898.65 an ounce,
after earlier having hit its lowest since July 11 at $893. The
metal has fallen nearly 5 percent this week, putting it on track
for its biggest weekly loss in nine months.
    Palladium        was up 0.3 percent to $996 an ounce.

 (Additional reporting by Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru; editing by
Mark Heinrich)
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