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Gold dips on firm dollar, market awaits Powell's second testimony

International Business
Thu, 01 Mar 2018

Gold prices fell for the third day on Thursday, weighed down by a stronger dollar while investors awaited the second session of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's testimony before the Senate Banking Committee later in the global day. Spot gold was 0.2 percent lower at $1,314.64 an ounce at 0444 GMT.

Prices have fallen about 1 percent so far this week. U.S. gold futures were down 0.2 percent at $1,315.4 per ounce. The dollar index , which measures the greenback against a basket of major currencies, was up 0.1 percent at 90.700. It had earlier touched its highest since Jan. 19 at 90.744.

"U.S. dollar firmness continues to weigh on gold but (the metal) found some support on weakness in equities," said a Hong Kong-based trader. The U.S. currency, which in February recorded its best monthly performance since November 2016, has been bolstered by Powell's hawkish stance on the U.S. economy that fuelled expectations of interest rates being raised four times this year rather than three.

Higher interest rates tend to boost the dollar and push bond yields up, making greenback denominated, non-yielding gold more expensive for holders of other currencies. The gold market is keenly waiting for the second round of Powell's testimony.

"There's the chance he dials back his hawkish rhetoric, but if he stays the course, there's always a chance we could see higher repricing of U.S. interest rates and a slightly firmer dollar which could trigger another leg lower in gold prices," Stephen Innes, APAC trading head at OANDA, said in a note.

U.S. economic growth slowed slightly more than initially thought in the fourth quarter after the strongest pace of consumer spending in three years depleted inventories and drew in imports as businesses struggled to produce enough goods and services.

Meanwhile, Asian stocks skidded on Thursday after the Fed chief's comments revived fears about the pace of U.S. monetary tightening this year, amid concerns that higher borrowing rates could crimp corporate activity and cool economic growth. Spot gold continues to target $1,303 as it has more or less broken a support at $1,317 per ounce, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Among other precious metals, silver fell 0.3 percent to $16.35 an ounce. Platinum fell almost 1 percent to $973.50 per ounce, while palladium was flat at $1,042.47 per ounce.

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