Gold slips to near 1-week low on Fed Powell's hawkish stance

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FILE PHOTO:Granules of gold and silver are seen in glass jars at the Krastsvetmet non-ferrous metals plant in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia March 10, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Manzyuk

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  • U.S. 10-year Treasury yields hit multi-year highs
  • Russia-Ukraine situation keeping a floor on gold - analyst
  • Palladium down more than 3%
  • Silver falls to near one-week low

March 22 (Reuters) - Gold prices fell over 1% to a near one-week low on Tuesday after U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell hinted at big rate hikes this year to fight against soaring inflation, sending Treasury yields higher.

Gold is highly sensitive to rising U.S. interest rates, as they increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

Spot gold was down 0.7% at $1,921.58 per ounce by 01:57 p.m. EDT (1757 GMT).

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U.S. gold futures settled down 0.4% at $1,921.50.

"The fact the Fed is ready to do half-point increases versus a quarter-point moving forward is all pretty hawkish and has pushed gold lower," RJO Futures senior market strategist Bob Haberkorn said.

"A comment like that would normally send gold significantly lower, like a $50 lower move, but the fact the Russia-Ukraine situation is on the forefront is keeping a floor on gold."

Powell said on Monday policymakers needed to move "expeditiously" as inflation runs hot, and he raised the possibility of 50 basis point (bps) hikes.

Powell's hawkish stance triggered a sharp bond market sell-off and sent the benchmark 10-year yields to their highest since May 2019.

Traders are now pricing in as much as a 50 bps rate hike at the Fed's next meeting in May. Last week, the Fed raised rates by 25 bps for the first time in three years. FEDWATCH

Despite this, pressure on gold has been relatively muted since investors' focus is on the Ukraine conflict, with any big developments likely to trigger sharp price swings, analysts said.

Rising gold exchange-traded fund holdings show that despite day-to-day price fluctuations, asset managers are moving back into gold to diversify and as a hedge against inflation and an economic downturn, said Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen.

Silver fell 1.6% to $24.80 per ounce and platinum dropped 1.6% to $1,021. Palladium dipped 3.8% to $2,487.19.

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Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Richard Chang

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