September 28, 2018 / 4:33 AM / a year ago

Gold on path for longest monthly losing streak in two decades

LONDON (Reuters) - Gold steadied near six-week lows on Friday and was on track for its longest monthly losing streak since January 1997 as the dollar firmed after the U.S. Federal Reserve reaffirmed its plans to continue to raise interest rates.

An employee sorts gold bars in the Austrian Gold and Silver Separating Plant 'Oegussa' in Vienna, Austria, December 15, 2017. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/Files

The metal is down about 1.6 percent in September, its sixth straight monthly loss.

Spot gold was up 0.1 percent at $1,183.15 an ounce at 1115 GMT. The metal touched its lowest since Aug. 17 at $1,180.34 an ounce earlier in the session.

U.S. gold futures eased 0.1 percent to $1,186.20 an ounce.

The Fed raised interest rates on Wednesday and said it planned four more increases by the end of 2019 and another in 2020.

“The strength of the U.S. dollar and expectations of another four rate raises in the next 15 months are putting pressure on gold,” said ActivTrades chief analyst Carlo Alberto De Casa.

Gold is highly sensitive to rising interest rates, which lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion. They also boost the dollar, in which the metal is priced.

The dollar also rose against its peers as data showed U.S. economic growth accelerated in the second quarter at its fastest pace in nearly four years. Another report showed durable goods rose 4.5 percent in August, rebounding from a revised 1.2 percent drop the month before.

“The environment remains challenging for gold as long as the dollar remains strong,” said Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke.

“But at some point the rate outlook in the States will be priced into the market as confirmed by (Federal Reserve) Chairman (Jerome) Powell this week and this should eventually take the upside pressure from the U.S. dollar.”

Gold is down more than 13 percent from an April high, largely because of the stronger dollar, which has been boosted by a vibrant U.S. economy and fears of a global trade war. Investors have bought the greenback instead of gold as a safe investment.

Hedge funds and money managers increased their net short position in COMEX gold contracts in the week to Sept. 18.

In Europe, the euro slipped after Italy’s government agreed a budget seen by some investors as defying Brussels and will see the country run a bigger-than-anticipated deficit for the next three years.

Among other metals, palladium touched a fresh eight-month high at $1,091.30 an ounce. Silver rose 0.7 percent to $14.30 an ounce and platinum was down 0.6 percent to $804 an ounce.

Additional reporting by Vijaykumar Vedala in Bengaluru; Editing by Adrian Croft

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