Gold slumps to lowest in a year on strong dollar, weak oil

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LONDON (July 18): Gold extended its downtrend on Wednesday, sinking to the lowest in a year on a buoyant dollar and falling oil prices, but some analysts said bullion was close to bottoming out.

Gold has shed more than 10% since touching a peak of US$1,365.23 an ounce in mid-April, weighed down by a stronger dollar and rising US interest rates.

Spot gold was down 0.3% at US$1,223.22 an ounce by 1408 GMT after touching its weakest since July 14 last year at US$1,220.81.

US gold futures for August delivery shed 0.2% to US$1,223.50 an ounce.

"In this environment where we also see oil prices falling, and so less concern from investors about rising inflation, that's another negative for the gold price," said Jens Pedersen, senior analyst at Danske Bank in Copenhagen.

Gold is regarded as a hedge against inflation.

Oil benchmark Brent crude hit a three-month low on Wednesday after a rise in US crude inventories highlighted increasing global supply and concerns over weak demand.             

The dollar rose across the board, climbing to a six-month high against the yen, after US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell gave an upbeat outlook for the US economy.       

Higher interest rates tend to boost the dollar and push up bond yields, making greenback-denominated gold more expensive for holders of other currencies and denting its appeal.

However, Pedersen said he expected dollar strength to wane and other factors to help gold stabilise.

"There are still some concerns about the geopolitical environment, the situation in Italy for example, so if these stories start to flare up again, it could lead investors back into gold," he said.

The heavy weight of bearish positions in the gold market also creates the potential for a recovery, analyst Carsten Menke at Julius Baer in Zurich said in a note.

"Short positions ... by speculative traders such as hedge funds are approaching record levels. With the US dollar expected to eventually roll over and upside pressure to US bond yields easing, medium- to longer-term buying opportunities (for gold) should open up."

Among other precious metals, silver slipped 0.8% to US$15.43 an ounce, after touching US$15.38, its lowest since July 10 last year.

Platinum lost 0.7% to US$806.49 an ounce and hit a two-week low of US$798.14 earlier in the session.

Palladium dipped 0.5% to US$906.72 per ounce after hitting US$902.97, the weakest since April 9.