February 28, 2019 / 4:52 AM / 4 months ago

Gold eyes first monthly fall in five as U.S. data buoys dollar

(Reuters) - Gold retreated to a two-week low on Thursday as the dollar recouped losses on stronger-than-expected U.S. economic data, setting bullion on course for its first monthly decline in the last five.

Gold bars are seen in the Austrian Gold and Silver Separating Plant 'Oegussa' in Vienna, Austria, December 15, 2017. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/Files

As of 1:49 pm EST (1849 GMT), spot gold fell 0.4 percent to $1,314 per ounce, after hitting a low of $1,312.43, its weakest since Feb. 15.

U.S. gold futures settled down 0.4 percent at $1,316.1.

“Gold is more data-driven at the moment. We had the better gross domestic product (GDP) data and that was the biggest driver for the pullback,” said Phil Streible, senior commodities strategist at RJO Futures in Chicago.

Gold was hurt by the dollar’s advance following the release of the data, he added.

The dollar regained some momentum versus six major currencies after the U.S. Commerce Department’s report showed a 2.6 percent annualised rate increase in gross domestic product for the fourth quarter.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast GDP to grow 2.3 percent in the fourth quarter.

The strong GDP data came after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank was in no hurry to decide on future interest rates hikes.

“From a technical point of view, a fall below $1,320 could open space for further a decline to $1,300, an area which is likely to stop the short-term bearish scenario,” ActivTrades chief analyst Carlo Alberto De Casa said in a note.

Investors are monitoring tensions between India and Pakistan which have engaged in retaliatory attacks, and developments on the U.S.-China trade talks.

Gold is considered a safe asset during times of economic or political uncertainty.

Among other precious metals, spot palladium rose 0.9 percent to $1,542 per ounce, after retreating from its all-time peak of 1,565.09 scaled earlier in the week. The metal recorded its biggest monthly percentage gain since November 2016.

“Palladium is the bitcoin of metals. Any pullback is going to be a buying opportunity rather than a selling opportunity. Also there are some difficulties mining it,” said Eli Tesfaye, senior market strategist for brokerage RJO Futures in Chicago.

The autocatalyst metal has surged about 22 percent so far this year amid tightening supply in the market.

Spot silver fell 1 percent to $15.58 per ounce and was down about 3 percent for the month, its weakest since August.

Platinum rose 0.3 percent to $867, after hitting its highest since Nov. 7 at $876 earlier in the session. Prices also marked their biggest monthly gain since January 2018, having risen more than 5 percent.

(Graphic - 2019 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl)

Reporting by Arijit Bose, Swati Verma and Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Richard Chang

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