Gold steady as investor focus turns to Fed meet

By Reuters Staff

Gold prices were steady on Friday supported by the uncertainty around the Federal Reserve’s policy outlook for next year but the metal was on track to mark its biggest weekly decline in five weeks, as a firmer dollar weighed on the sentiment.

Spot gold was steady at $1,241.99 per ounce, as of 0355 GMT. On Thursday, prices fell to their lowest level since Dec. 7 at $1,239.83.

The metal is down about 0.4 percent so far for the week. U.S. gold futures were down 0.1 percent at $1,246 per ounce.

There are not many immediate risks at this point of time, therefore some people are holding on to their positions in gold and not liquidating, said Brian Lan, managing director at dealer GoldSilver Central in Singapore.

“Dollar has also strengthened a little… We don’t expect gold to do much unless there’s something on the Fed decision (on rate hikes).”

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was up about 0.1 percent as investor focus shifted to an expected U.S. interest rate hike next week.

“Market sentiment towards zero-yielding gold is at risk of souring ahead of the Fed meeting next week where interest rates are expected to be hiked.

However, with the Fed potentially taking a pause on rate hikes next year, gold remains somewhat supported,” said Lukman Otunuga, a research analyst at FXTM.

The risk of a U.S. recession in the next two years has risen to 40 percent, according to a Reuters poll of economists who also found a significant shift in expectations toward fewer Fed interest rate rises next year.

Lower interest rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding bullion and weigh on the dollar.

“The near-term outlook for gold hangs on the dollar performance… Bulls remain safe above the $1,240 support level with $1,250.60 acting as a level of interest,” Otunuga added.

Spot gold remains neutral in a range of $1,240-$1,253 per ounce, and an escape could suggest a direction, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Among other precious metals, spot palladium was down 0.5 percent at $1,254.50 per ounce, having hit an all-time high of $1,269.25 in the previous session. The metal was on track to mark third week of gains with prices up nearly 2 percent so far.

Silver fell 0.6 percent to $14.67 per ounce and up about 0.4 percent for the week.

Platinum gained 0.4 percent to $796.00 per ounce and was en route to post a weekly gain after declining for five weeks.

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