March 1, 2017 / 11:29 AM / 9 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold falls on dollar pressure after hawkish Fed comments

    * Fed comments dominate as Trump offers no detail on
    * Focus shifts to Fed Chair Janet Yellen's Friday speech
    * Dollar index hits seven-week high

 (Updates prices)
    By Maytaal Angel
    LONDON, March 1 (Reuters) - Gold fell on Wednesday as the
dollar gained after comments from U.S. Federal Reserve officials
raised expectations of an interest rate hike in March and
overshadowed President Donald Trump's first major policy speech
to Congress. 
    New York Fed President William Dudley -- one of the most
influential U.S. central bankers -- said the case for tightening
monetary policy had become "a lot more compelling", while San
Francisco Fed President John Williams said he saw "no need to
delay" raising rates.             
    Having priced in only around a 30 percent chance that the
Fed would move this month before the comments, investors moved
to price in around a 68 percent probability of a March hike,
according to Reuters data. 
    "Rate rises are now priced in to futures but not in to gold,
so the risk is to the downside (for gold)," said Mitsubishi
analyst Jonathan Butler.
    Rising U.S. interest rates increase the opportunity cost of
holding non-yielding gold, while boosting the dollar.
    Spot gold        dropped 0.5 percent to $1,242.07 an ounce
by 1250 GMT, heading for a third straight day of losses. The
metal hit its highest since Nov. 11 at $1,263.80 on Feb. 27.
    U.S. gold futures         fell 0.9 percent to $1,242.40.
    "Fed Chair Yellen will be giving a speech on Friday. If
Yellen's remarks also point to a rate hike in the near future,
this will weigh on the gold price," Commerzbank said in a note.
    Expectations that Trump would give details on stimulus plans
on Tuesday were largely disappointed, with the President failing
again to provide detail on tax reform and infrastructure
    The speech did, however, contrast with the harsher rhetoric
investors have come to expect, thus tempting some into riskier
assets and slightly knocking gold's appeal as a safe haven.
    "Gold prices are reacting to the bullishness in other
markets and are easing accordingly. That said, with Trump's
speech not giving much substance there is still room for
disappointment," said FastMarkets analyst William Adams.
    The dollar index climbed as much as 0.7 percent to its
highest in seven weeks       
    India's February gold imports surged more than 82 percent
from a year ago as consumers ramped up purchases for weddings,
provisional data from consultancy GFMS showed.             
    Spot silver        was flat at $18.31 an ounce, platinum
       fell 0.3 percent to $1,022.50 and palladium        gained
0.5 percent to $772.50.

 (Additional reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru;
Editing by David Goodman and David Evans)

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