March 2, 2017 / 1:21 AM / 9 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold slips as dollar firms on bets for March rate hike

    March 2 (Reuters) - Gold prices slipped on Thursday after
the dollar firmed on hawkish comments from U.S. Federal Reserve
officials that stoked expectations of a U.S. interest rate hike
in March.
    * Spot gold        had dropped 0.2 percent to $1,247 per
ounce by 0049 GMT. It hit its highest since Nov. 11 at $1,263.80
on Feb. 27.
    * U.S. gold futures         fell 0.2 percent to $1,247.60.
    * The dollar index        was firm at 101.820
    * U.S. consumer spending cooled in January as demand for
automobiles and utilities fell, but inflation recorded its
biggest monthly increase in four years, raising the probability
of an interest rate hike from the Fed this month.             
    * The Fed is setting the stage for a U.S. interest rate
increase later this month, with the central bank's leading voice
on international economics saying the global economy seems to
have turned a corner, clearing the way for a hike "soon".
    * This week has an unusually high concentration of Fed
speeches, with four out of five Fed governors - including Chair
Janet Yellen - speaking ahead of the March 14-15 rate meeting.
    * New internal Fed rules on public communications make
Friday the last chance to set up market expectations before the
next Fed meeting.
    * Britain's factories have started 2017 strongly but
consumers are turning more cautious about borrowing to spend,
according to data which suggested the economy will slow after
defying the Brexit shock in 2016.             
    * Asian factories extended a global manufacturing revival as
activity picked up steam in February, though the outlook for
many of the region's export-reliant economies remained uncertain
in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump's protectionist
    * China's move to open its derivatives market to foreign
bond investors could help counter outflows but lingering
concerns about capital controls are keeping offshore investors
    * Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust      , the world's largest
gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose 0.28 percent to 843.54
tonnes on Wednesday from 841.17 tonnes on Tuesday.          
    * India's February gold imports surged to 50 tonnes, up more
than 82 percent from a year ago, on pent-up jeweller demand and
as retail consumers ramped up purchases for weddings,
provisional data from consultancy GFMS showed on Wednesday.
      0700  Germany     Import prices      Jan 
      1000  Euro zone   Inflation          Feb 
      1000  Euro zone   Producer prices    Jan 
      1000  Euro zone   Unemployment rate  Jan 
      1330  U.S.        Weekly jobless claims 
     1445  U.S.         ISM-New York index  Feb 

 (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Joseph

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