Gold Rallies to One-Week High

Published September 19, 2013

| Reuters

Gold hit a one-week high on Thursday as the dollar fell after the U.S. Federal Reserve stunned markets by choosing not to cut back on its asset-buying programme for now.

Bullion gained 4.2 percent on Wednesday, its biggest daily gain since June 2012, after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke refused to commit to begin reducing quantitative easing this year, instead stressing the programme was "not on a preset course".

Many economists had expected a $10 billion reduction to the central bank's $85 billion monthly bond purchases.

Spot gold was down 0.1 percent to $1,363.10 an ounce by 1005 GMT, after earlier hitting $1,372.70, its highest since Sept. 10.

U.S. gold futures for December delivery jumped 4.2 percent, or $55.50 an ounce to $1,363.00.

"If people have a view that this is a game changer for the Fed, then that may change their perception of what's good value for gold," Standard Chartered analyst Dan Smith said.

"(We) are seeing that the Fed will only start tapering in March 2014 because of the change in emphasis from the labour market to inflation."

Gold, often seen as an inflation hedge and safe-haven investment, has lost some 20 percent of its value this year after the Fed signalled it would start reining in QE, which would reduce liquidity in the financial markets.

World shares and global bond prices surged after the Fed's announcement, with 10-year U.S. Treasury yields tumbling as low 2.67 percent. The dollar hit its lowest since February against a basket of currencies.

The Fed also cut its projection for 2013 economic growth to a range of 2.0 to 2.3 percent from a June estimate of 2.3 to 2.6 percent. The downgrade for 2014 was even sharper.

The chance that U.S. interest rates could stay low for longer was enhanced by news from the White House that noted dove Janet Yellen was the front-runner to take over the Fed when Ben Bernanke steps down in January.

An environment of low interest rates encourages investors to put money into the non-interest-bearing assets such as gold.

"The (Fed) decision, combined with the upcoming debt ceiling debate, leaves risks to gold prices as skewed to the upside in the near term," Goldman Sachs said in a note.

"(But) we continue to expect that gold prices will resume their decline heading into 2014, when we expect economic data to solidly confirm a reacceleration in U.S. growth and warrant a less accommodative monetary policy stance."

PHYSICAL DEMAND

Higher prices kept buyers away in Asian markets, with China closed for the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday and demand in India curbed by official restrictions on imports.

India's central bank and government have taken several steps this year to curb bullion imports in an effort to reduce its record trade deficit.

Silver rose 0.1 percent to $22.89 an ounce, having rallied around 6.5 percent, its biggest one-day gain since November 2008, after the Fed decision.

Spot platinum rose to a one-week high of $1,478 an ounce and spot palladium lost 0.2 percent to $715.50 an ounce. (Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; editing by Jane Baird)

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