September 18, 2015 / 4:21 AM / 3 years ago

PRECIOUS-Gold dips as Fed move to hold U.S. rates adds to uncertainty

* Gold eases after two-day rally of more than 2 pct
    * Fed says could still raise rates this year
    * Lack of clarity on timing of rate hike to weigh on prices

 (Updates prices)
    By A. Ananthalakshmi
    SINGAPORE, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Gold dropped from a two-week
high on Friday, giving back some of the sharp gains from the
last two days, as the Federal Reserve's decision to hold U.S.
interest rates steady this week added to uncertainty over the
timing of an eventual rate hike. 
    Spot gold fell 0.3 percent to $1,127.70 an ounce at
0641 GMT, after climbing to a two-week high of $1,133.20 in the
previous session. Still, the metal was on track to snap a
three-week losing streak with a near 2-percent gain.
    The Fed kept interest rates unchanged on Thursday, in a bow
to worries about the global economy, financial market volatility
and sluggish inflation at home. But the U.S. central bank
maintained its bias towards a rate hike sometime this year.
    Gold had been weighed down all year on uncertainty over when
the Fed would hike interest rates from record-lows. Higher rates
could dent demand for non-interest paying bullion, while
boosting the dollar. 
    Weakness in the dollar and stock markets could prompt a
rally in gold prices in the near term but the gains are unlikely
to last, said INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir.
    "Because the Fed has made clear that it intends to raise
rates by year-end, the markets will eventually start bidding the
dollar higher and we could see gold's up move to be relatively
short-lived," he said.
    The Fed on Thursday also forecast inflation would creep only
slowly toward its 2 percent target, which one bullion trader
said was a negative for gold, often seen as an inflation-hedge.
    The Fed is due to hold two more policy meets this year, in
October and December. 
    A majority of Wall Street's top banks now expect the Fed to
begin hiking rates in December, according to a Reuters poll
conducted on Thursday. 
    The dollar nursed losses on Friday after slumping to a
three-week low against a basket of major currencies in the
previous session. 
    Physical demand from Asia wasn't offering much support to
gold prices.
    Gold discounts in India, the world's second-biggest
consumer, widened this week as dealers struggled to offload
stocks amid sluggish demand. 
    Chinese premiums held steady at $5-$6 despite the overnight
jump in prices, but failed to boost global prices. 
    PRICES AT 0641 GMT    
 Metal             Last     Change   Pct chg
 Spot gold          1127.7     -3.5    -0.31
 Spot silver         15.03    -0.09     -0.6
 Spot platinum       971.8     -8.8     -0.9
 Spot palladium        604    -3.75    -0.62
 Comex gold         1127.5     10.5     0.94
 Comex silver        15.03    0.046     0.31
 Euro               1.1405                  
 DXY                94.537                  
 COMEX gold and silver contracts show the
 most active months
 (Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Joseph Radford and
Tom Hogue)
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