Gold Flat as Investors Await Fed's Next Move


Gold was little changed on Monday as the dollar eased and investors assessed whether last week's better-than-expected U.S. jobs number was robust enough to lead the Federal Reserve to start a withdrawal of stimulus soon.

Markets are watching data closely to try to figure out how soon the Fed could begin cutting back the pace of its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases, which have supported bullion in its role as a hedge against inflation.

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Increased central bank liquidity and a low interest rate environment favour assets like gold, encouraging investors to put money into non-interest-bearing assets.

"Clearly the overall tapering (discussion) is reflected in the gold price," Credit Suisse analyst Karim cherif said.

"If this happens in January, which is before what the market anticipates, it could be to some extent a surprise, so ...(it could) be an extra drag on the sector moving into 2014."

Spot gold was unchanged at $1,228.26 an ounce by 1118 GMT. It lost around $15 an ounce after the U.S. jobs data on Friday, before regaining pre-release levels as holders of short positions, or bets that prices would fall steeply, scrambled to cover.

U.S. gold futures for February delivery were down 0.1 percent to $1,227.80 an ounce.

The dollar fell to a near six-week low against the euro and was broadly down against a basket of currencies, while European stocks rose after strong U.S. payrolls data and Chinese trade figures bolstered risk appetite.

The Fed's next policy meeting is on Dec. 17-18.

The U.S. central bank has had considerable success in persuading investors that tapering is not tightening, and that interest rates will remain low for a long time to come.

Data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed that hedge funds and money managers raised their bearish bets in U.S. gold futures and options close to a 7-1/2 year high in the week to Dec. 3, another reason that short-covering rallies could emerge.

Gold prices have fallen about 27 percent this year amid a shift in investor money to equities, and improving U.S. economy.

Holdings in SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 3 tonnes to its lowest since early 2009 at 835.71 tonnes on Friday.

"$1,200 an ounce remains a sensitive level for gold prices, as below this threshold, an additional 100 tonnes of ETP holdings become loss-making and, furthermore, this would ... make 10 percent of global production vulnerable," Barclays said in a note.

Silver rose 0.3 percent to $19.51 an ounce. Spot platinum was up 0.2 percent to $1,355.40 an ounce, while spot palladium fell 0.4 percent to $728.40 an ounce.