Gold steady on weaker US dollar, set for third week of gains

Gold steady on weaker US dollar, set for third week of gains
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(Feb 17): Gold held steady on Friday as the US dollar hovered near one-week lows, keeping the metal on track for a third week of gains amid political uncertainties in the United States and Europe.

Spot gold was flat at US$1,238.29 per ounce at 0710 GMT, while US gold futures were down 0.2% at US$1,238.50.

Gold is up 0.3% so far this week and has risen about 7.5% in 2017.

"Looks like people are waiting for the (next Federal Reserve) meeting and don't want to take any chances as the US CPI numbers were really good and we see good chances for a rate hike," said  Ronald Leung, chief dealer at Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong Kong.

"We can see that people are opting for stocks rather than buying gold."

A gauge of major world equity markets inched to a record for a second straight day on Thursday, but took a breather on Friday.            

"Dealers are extremely cautious about running the market higher as the March Fed rate hike debate will likely play out for the foreseeable future," said Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA.

Concern over US President Donald Trump's policies, as well as elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany this year, fueled gold's rise to a peak of US$1,244.67 on Feb 8.

But the prospect of a stronger US dollar and US Treasury yields after Fed Chair Janet Yellen said US interest rates may need to be raised in March dragged gold to US$1,216.41 on Wednesday, its lowest since Feb 3.             

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, was at 100.540 on Friday, after hitting a one-week low of 100.410 the day before.

Spot gold may drop to US$1,230 per ounce as its correction from the Feb 8 high of US$1,244.67 may extend, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.             

Holdings of SPDR Gold, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, have risen 5.6% so far this month, the most since June 2016.

"We don't expect much in the way of market movements going into Friday's session, but gold should nevertheless see something of a bid heading into the weekend," said INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir.

Spot silver dipped 0.3% to US$18.03 an ounce. The metal hit its strongest since Nov 11 at US$18.13 in the previous session.

Platinum edged down 0.1% to US$1,010.80

Palladium fell 0.6% to US$787.45. The metal, used in emission-controlling catalytic converters for the automotive industry, touched its best since Jan 24 at US$794.90 in the prior session. It has gained over 16% so far this year.