June 7, 2018 / 1:37 AM / 12 days ago

Gold steadies as investors keep wary eye on Fed

LONDON (Reuters) - A weaker dollar helped gold prices to edge higher on Thursday, but gains were limited as the market waited for clues on the pace of U.S. interest rate rises from a meeting of the Federal Reserve next week.

FILE PHOTO: A salesperson arranges 24K gold bracelets for Chinese weddings at Chow Tai Fook Jewellery store in Hong Kong, China December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

Spot gold was up 0.1 percent at $1,297.24 an ounce by 1407 GMT, while U.S. gold futures for August delivery were flat at $1,301.30.

“The rise in prices is due to the dollar,” said Capital Economics analyst Simona Gambarini. [USD/]

A weaker dollar is good for gold because it makes the metal cheaper for buyers using other currencies and can fuel demand.

However, Gambarini said investors were in wait-and-see mode ahead of the Fed meeting on June 12-13, when they expect both a rate rise and signals on the outlook for U.S. monetary policy.

Interest rates are important for gold because higher rates tend to boost the dollar and also push up bond yields, reducing the appeal of non-yielding bullion.

Expectations that the Fed will push ahead with several rate hikes this year were fuelled on Thursday by U.S. data showing an unexpected fall in applications for unemployment benefits.

Gold fell from near 1-1/2 year highs around $1,350 an ounce in mid-April to below $1,300 last month as the dollar strengthened to 2018 highs, but prices steadied after the rally faltered.

As well as the Fed meeting, investors were looking ahead to a summit between the leaders of the United States and North Korea on June 12 and a European Central Bank (ECB) meeting on June 14.

Both events could affect gold.

Tensions over Korea have supported gold, increasing demand for an asset viewed as a safe place to invest in times of geopolitical uncertainty.

Markets are meanwhile betting the ECB will signal a winding down of its vast bond-buying programme, boosting the euro.

From a technical viewpoint, Commerzbank analysts said gold prices were more likely to fall than to rise if it was unable to move above its 200-day moving average around $1,308.

Fibonacci technical support was at $1,286, said analysts at ScotiaMocatta.

In other precious metals, silver was up 1 percent at $16.81 an ounce after rising to its highest since April 24.

Silver broke above its 100-day moving average on Wednesday and its 200-day moving average on Thursday, improving its technical outlook and triggering buying.

Commerzbank said the moves higher suggest a recovery towards $17.50-$17.74.

Platinum was down 0.5 percent at $898.25 an ounce, while palladium gained 0.4 percent to $1,020.50 after breaking above its 100-day and 200-day moving averages on Wednesday.

Additional reporting by Karen Rodrigues in Bengaluru; Editing by David Goodman/David Evans

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