January 14, 2016 / 10:42 AM / 2 years ago

Gold falls 2 percent on Fed comments, chart-based sell signals

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) - Gold fell sharply to a 1-1/2-week low on Thursday, pressured by a U.S. Federal Reserve president’s comments about potentially rethinking further rate hikes, triggering technical sell signals while shrugging off a rebound from 12-year lows in oil prices.

Crude oil prices rebounded from 12-year lows and led the beaten-up U.S. stock market higher, pointing to a recovery in risk appetite and blunting bullion’s appeal as a haven. The dollar turned higher. [MKTS/GLOB]

Spot gold was down 1.5 percent at $1,076.35 an ounce by 3:10 p.m. EST (2010 GMT), its weakest session since Dec. 17 after falling 2 percent to $1,071, the lowest since Jan. 4.

U.S. gold futures for February delivery settled down 1.2 percent at $1,073.60 an ounce.

St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said a continued decline in inflation expectations may change his outlook for further Fed rate hikes, though so far he feels the United States continues on a healthy track.

“I think those comments initiated a technical breach,” said Eli Tesfaye, senior market strategist for brokerage RJO Futures in Chicago, adding that technical selling came in at the prior session’s opening level as well as its low.

Bullard’s comments followed those by Chicago Fed President Charles Evans on Wednesday, when he said he was nervous about the potential effects of China’s slowdown on the U.S. economy and about the possibility that inflation expectations may be slipping.

The metal hit two-month highs at $1,112 last week as volatility in Chinese stocks battered appetite for risk, but trading has since been down for four out of five sessions.

A retreat in the euro from earlier highs after dovish minutes from the European Central Bank’s December meeting added to pressure on gold, while some investors looked to be cashing in some of the previous session’s gains, dealers said.

“A little bit of it may be producer selling because they don’t want to be caught lower ... (and) it could very well be profit-taking,” said Afshin Nabavi, head of trading at MKS.

The world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, New York-listed SPDR Gold Shares, reported a 2.4 tonne rise in its holdings on Wednesday, bringing its total inflow for the year to 11.7 tonnes.

Among other precious metals, silver XAG= saw the biggest fall, sliding 2 percent to $13.83 an ounce, erasing the bulk of the previous day’s gains.

Palladium was up 0.6 percent at $488 an ounce, while platinum lost 1.2 percent to $837.12.

Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing by Susan Thomas, David Goodman and Marguerita Choy

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