July 17, 2014 / 12:45 AM / 3 years ago

PRECIOUS-Gold steady near 4-week low; stronger equities, data weigh

SINGAPORE, July 17 (Reuters) - Gold was steady near a
four-week low on Thursday, trading just below $1,300 an ounce,
as stronger equities and data dimmed its safe-haven appeal,
while investors weighed the possibility of a
sooner-than-expected U.S. interest rate hike. 
    * Spot gold was little changed at $1,299.70 an ounce
by 0019 GMT, after rising 0.4 percent in the previous session,
snapping a two-day decline. The metal fell to a four-week low of
$1,291.70 earlier in the week. 
    * Gold has been under pressure after Federal Reserve Chair
Janet Yellen said on Tuesday the U.S. central bank could raise
rates earlier or faster if hiring and wages take off in an
unexpected way. 
    * Higher rates would encourage investors to withdraw money
from non-interest-bearing assets such as gold.
    * Strong U.S. manufacturing and housing data on Wednesday
also stoked fears that a strong economic recovery could prompt
the Fed to act soon. 
    * In a sign of waning investor sentiment, SPDR Gold Trust
, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund,
said its holdings fell 2.7 tonnes to 806.03 tonnes on Wednesday.
    * In other industry news, London Gold Market Fixing Ltd, the
company operating the century-old global price benchmark known
as the "fix", said it is seeking a third party to take over
administration of the process, possibly signalling a move to an
electronic platform. 
    * U.S. precious metals dealer Anthem Vault Inc said it has
launched the first digital currency backed by physical gold,
with an aim to increase the use of bullion as an accepted form
of electronic money.    
    * For the top stories on metals and other news, click
, or 
    *  Stock markets around the world rose on Wednesday, with
the Dow Jones industrial average ending at record levels as
strong China growth data and potential big deals in the United
States boosted investor sentiment. 
    1230 U.S. Housing starts June 
    1230 U.S. Building permits June 
    1230 U.S. Weekly jobless claims 
    1400 U.S. Philly Fed business index July

    PRICES AT 0019 GMT    
 Metal             Last     Change   Pct chg
 Spot gold          1299.7     0.83     0.06
 Spot silver         20.71     0.04     0.19
 Spot platinum     1482.99     5.09     0.34
 Spot palladium     872.22     1.42     0.16
 Comex gold           1301      1.2     0.09
 Comex silver       20.815     0.04     0.19
 Euro               1.3528                  
 DXY                80.518                  
 COMEX gold and silver contracts show the
 most active months
 (Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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