May 14, 2018 / 4:10 AM / 9 days ago

PRECIOUS-Gold rises as U.S. rate-hike view grounds dollar

    * Dollar slips further from 2018 peak hit last week
    * Spot gold looks neutral in $1,317-$1,326/oz - technicals
    * Speculators raise net long position in week to May 8 

 (Adds comment, updates prices)
    By Apeksha Nair
    BENGALURU, May 14 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose on Monday on
the back of a subdued dollar as investors considered the
prospects of fewer interest rate hikes in the United States this
year.
    Spot gold        was up 0.2 percent at $1,320.80 per ounce
as of 0643 GMT, after marking the highest since April 26 at
$1,325.96 in the previous session.
    U.S. gold futures         for June delivery were little
changed at $1,320.80 per ounce.
   "Investors are watching the U.S. bonds and the dollar closely
and taking cue from there for the direction of gold price," said
Joshua Rotbart, managing partner, J. Rotbart & Co in Hong Kong.
    The dollar eased 0.1 percent to 92.456 versus a basket of
six major currencies       , retreating further from its 2018
peak hit last week on the back of sagging U.S. yields, after
softer economic data curbed prospects of aggressive rate hikes
in the United States.                          
    St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard on
Friday spelled out the case against any further interest rate
increases, saying rates may already have reached a "neutral"
level that is no longer stimulating the economy.             
    The U.S. central bank is still, however, widely expected to
raise benchmark interest rates at its next policy meeting in
June.
    Gold is highly sensitive to rising U.S. rates as these tend
to boost the dollar and push bond yields up, adding pressure on
the greenback-denominated, non-yielding bullion. 
    While gold prices were also drawing support from political
uncertainty in the Middle East, investors said easing tensions
elsewhere could add downside risks to prices.             
                         
    "From geopolitical point of view we are currently in an
equilibrium between the prospects of 'good end' in the Korean
peninsula against looming conflict in the Middle East between
Iran and Israel. The price (of gold) reflects this balance,"
Rotbart said.
    Spot gold looks neutral in a range of $1,317-$1,326 per
ounce, Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao said. 
    Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust      , the world's largest
gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.62 percent to 857.64
tonnes on Friday.             
    Speculators raised their net long position in COMEX gold,  
by 636 contracts to 52,621, in the week to May 8, U.S. Commodity
Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data showed.             
    In other precious metals, silver        was up 0.6 percent
at $16.71 an ounce, after hitting a 2-1/2-week high in the
previous session.
    Platinum        rose 0.4 percent to $924.70 per ounce,
having hit its peak since April 25 at $929.10 on Friday. 
    Palladium        was 0.4 percent lower at $992.05 per ounce,
after hitting a 2-1/2-week high at $1,008.50 on Friday.

 (Reporting by Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard
Pullin and Subhranshu Sahu)
  
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