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PRECIOUS-Gold rises as dollar gives up gains; U.S. rates in focus

An employee displays a gold ingot and gold coins in a money changer in Nice.

An employee displays a gold ingot and gold coins in a money changer in Nice.

Reuters/Eric Gaillard




(Updates prices; adds detail, comment)

By Arpan Varghese

Feb 16 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose on Thursday as the dollar drifted down from one-month highs hit in the previous session on upbeat U.S. economic data.

Spot gold had ticked up 0.3 percent to $1,235.71 per ounce by 0237 GMT, while U.S. gold futures were up 0.4 percent at $1,237.3.

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"Perhaps the market is currently underestimating the prospects of an interest rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve in March, given the strong economic data. The impact would probably show in the medium term," said Jiang Shu, chief analyst at Shandong Gold Group.

"Gold is approaching a turning point and the upward trend in prices could end in the near future."

U.S. retail sales rose more than expected in January and consumer prices recorded their biggest gain in nearly four years, boosting prospects of an interest rate increase from the Fed next month.

The dollar index fell 0.3 percent to 100.93, with traders booking profits following the greenback's rally to its highest since Jan. 12 at 101.76 on Tuesday.

Federal Chair Janet Yellen had said on Tuesday that delaying increases could leave the Fed's policymaking committee behind the curve. On Wednesday, Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker repeated his view that the central bank should continue to raise interest rates this year. 

Gold is highly-sensitive to rising U.S. interest rates, as these increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.

Uncertainty surrounding the European Union and the policies of U.S. President Donald Trump could always provide some short-term support for bullion, Shu said.

"The real question is whether Trump's policy ... will alter the Fed's interest rate policy, and if so, it would have a long-term effect on gold," he added.

Spot gold may retest resistance at $1,249 per ounce, as it could have completed a correction triggered by this barrier, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

"We suspect that investors continue to expect more reflation (and inflation) coming out of the U.S. and are therefore reluctant to get too bearish on the precious metal," said INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir.

Meanwhile, spot silver rose 0.2 percent to $18.02 per ounce, while platinum also inched up 0.2 percent, to $1,012.20 an ounce.

Palladium fell 0.2 percent to $788.00 per ounce, after touching its highest since Jan. 24 at $792.70 earlier in the session.

(Reporting by Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Joseph Radford)

© Reuters News 2017
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