Gold Slips On Nervousness Over Fed Policy Outlook

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New York/London: Gold prices fell on Friday, reflecting tension between a global backdrop of easier interest rates and the chance of US monetary policy being tightened before the end of the year.

Spot gold was down 0.6 per cent at $1,323.16 an ounce by 1916 GMT (12:46 a.m. in India), on course for a weekly decline of about 1 per cent.

US gold futures settled down 0.6 per cent at $1,323.4.

Bullion has benefited significantly – hitting its highest in two years this month – as central banks from Europe to Japan keep policy looser for longer, which neutralizes the opportunity cost of holding an asset that does not pay interest.

But the dollar has gained on strong US data, boosting bets the Fed will raise US rates by year-end. Friday’s US manufacturing PMI numbers reflected the trend; the employment index hit the highest since July last year.

“People think the international situation is enough to keep the Federal Reserve on hold, but there’s some slight nervousness,” Macquarie analyst Matthew Turner said.

“The assumption that the Fed is more cautious now is surely correct as it didn’t manage to do the hiking cycle it wanted, but being more cautious does not mean completely paralyzed. There’s a slight down cycle for gold at the moment as there has been a string of good US data.”

The European Central Bank, meanwhile, held rates at record lows on Thursday but left the door open to more policy stimulus.

BNP Paribas revised up its gold forecasts for 2016 and 2017, but said it retained a “negative bias” in terms of trend on expectations that the Fed would normalize rates with the dollar remaining firm.

In US politics, Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination and vowed to be tough on crime and illegal immigrants in a speech on Thursday.

“If Trump were to become president (low probability in our view), gold prices will likely perform well, because we expect that his policies will be inward looking and will weaken the fundamentals of the US economy,” said ABN Amro analyst Georgette Boele in a note.

Palladium rose by as much as 0.7 per cent to $687.40 an ounce, the highest since late October 2015. It was on track for the fifth straight week higher.

Silver, which fell for the first week in eight, was down 0.6 per cent at $19.63 an ounce while platinum lost 1.9 per cent at $1,077.