Gold slips on profit taking, firm US dollar

Gold slips on profit taking, firm US dollar
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LONDON (April 3): Gold prices fell on Monday on a firm US dollar and as investors booked profits after bullion recorded its best quarter in a year on Friday.

Spot gold edged lower by 0.2% to US$1,246.84 per ounce at 0930 GMT, while US gold futures slipped 0.2% to US$1,248.9.

The dollar index strengthened 0.15% against a basket of major currencies, pulling away from four-month lows plumbed last week.

"Gold is stuck between US$1,238-US$1,260 with the risk to skewed to downside based on rising expected interest rates and failure to break higher which has left it vulnerable to profit-taking in the short term," said Ole Hansen, the head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank.

A Federal Reserve official said on Friday the Fed could pause interest rate hikes when it begins shedding its bond holdings, a move that could benefit gold.             

Gold is highly exposed to interest rates as they lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

US consumer spending barely rose in February amid delays in the payment of income tax refunds, but the biggest annual jump in inflation in nearly five years supported expectations of further interest rate hikes this year.         

Spot gold notched a quarterly gain of about 8.4% on Friday, marking its best quarter in a year, mostly driven by uncertainties around US President Donald Trump's policies and elections in Europe.

Hedge funds and money managers raised their net long position in COMEX gold for the second straight week in the week to March 28, and boosted it slightly in silver, US Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed on Friday.             

The main focus for markets this week is on US payroll figures on Friday and Trump's first meeting with counterpart Xi Jinping on Thursday and Friday.

On Sunday, Trump held out the possibility of using trade as a lever to secure Chinese cooperation against North Korea, which analysts think should help gold.             

In other precious metals, spot silver edged down 0.1% to US$18.20 per ounce but held near four-week highs.

Platinum rose 0.7% to US$952.30, after recording its best quarter in a year. Palladium was up 0.5% at US$799.25 an ounce and is up 17% so far this year.

"We think that both the gold and silver complexes will make fresh highs this month ahead of the French elections, but likely fade in their immediate aftermath," said INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir.