January 21, 2019 / 12:05 PM / 4 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold dips on firm dollar and rise in risk appetite

* Holdings of SPDR Gold rose 1.5 pct on Friday

* U.S. markets closed for public holiday (Updates prices)

By Eileen Soreng

Jan 21 (Reuters) - Gold slipped to its lowest level in almost a month on Monday as a firm dollar and greater risk appetite outweighed support from an expected pause to increases in U.S. interest rates.

Spot gold was down 0.1 percent at $1,279.53 an ounce by 2:04 p.m. ET (1904 GMT), after earlier touching its lowest level since Dec. 28, at $1,276.31. U.S. gold futures were down 0.2 percent to $1,279.60.

“Some calm has been restored in the equities market. ... We are seeing a bit of withdrawal of interest from the gold market,” said Macquarie commodity strategist Matthew Turner.

World markets showed some relief on Chinese economic data that was in line with expectations and offered some bright spots, though concerns about British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans prompted some caution.

U.S. markets were closed on Monday for a public holiday.

The dollar’s rise to a near two-week high weighed on gold, which has climbed more than 10 percent since mid-August, largely because of equity market turmoil and a weak dollar.

ActivTrades chief analyst Carlo Alberto De Casa said a break through $1,277 could lead the gold price down to $1,260.

Analysts said gold was still finding some support from expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve had reached the end of its monetary tightening, a slowdown in global economic conditions and geopolitical uncertainties.

Fed officials have left little doubt that they want to stop raising interest rates, at least for a while, before their first meeting of the new year, on Jan. 29-30.

Higher rates tend to reduce appetite for non-yielding gold.

Holdings of SPDR Gold, the largest gold-based exchange-traded fund, rose 1.5 percent on Friday to 809.76 tonnes.

Meanwhile, spot palladium, which hit a record high of $1,434.50 last week, driven by a sustained deficit, shed 1.1 percent to $1,361.50 an ounce.

“As a result of the strong rally over the last couple of months, the palladium market may see some consolidation before resuming its upward path,” said Hans-Guenter Ritter, global head of trading at Heraeus Metals, Germany.

Silver fell 0.7 percent to $15.22 an ounce while platinum lost 0.8 percent to $791.00. (Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru Editing by Nick Zieminski and Leslie Adler)

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