Gold Nears Three-Month Low on Dollar Strength

Reuters

Gold fell more than 1 percent on Wednesday, touching its lowest in more than three months in what looked to be an eighth straight losing session as a robust dollar and expectations of higher U.S. interest rates curbed appetite for the metal.

Spot gold earlier fell 1.1 percent to $1,147.10 an ounce, its lowest since Dec. 1, and was down 0.7 percent at $1,153.10 an ounce by 2:35 p.m. EDT (1835 GMT).

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U.S. gold for April delivery was down $9.50 at $1,150.60 an ounce.

"It's very much a function of dollar strength because gold in euro terms remains quick high," said Mark O'Byrne, research director in Dublin for GoldCore Ltd, a bullion dealer.

Spot gold prices in euros were trading at around one-month highs.

O'Byrne also noted technical selling, with $1,130 the next support level after breaking below $1,150.

The afternoon gold fix was set at $1,150 an ounce, the lowest in four months, traders said.

Weakness in gold spread to other precious metals, with platinum taking the biggest hit as prices slumped to $1,109.50 an ounce, their lowest since July 2009.

Also weighing on gold prices was last week's stronger than expected U.S. non-farm payrolls data that renewed expectations the Federal Reserve would begin to increase U.S. interest rates in mid-year.

Higher rates could dent demand for assets that do not pay interest, such as gold, and boost the dollar, which was trading at its highest in nearly 12 years against a basket of major currencies. The dollar was boosted by firmer U.S. Treasury yields.

A strong U.S. currency makes dollar-denominated assets such as gold more expensive for holders of other currencies.

"Ultimately support is at $1,130, which is around last year's lows, but it is hard to argue against the short-term downtrend established since the end of January," said Jonathan Butler, a strategist at Mitsubishi Corp.

The metal was also under pressure from firmer U.S. and European shares, which bounced back from the previous session's selloff.

The drop in gold to multimonth lows has attracted some bargain hunters in Asia, the world's top bullion-consuming region, traders said.

In China, the yellow metal was traded at a premium of about $5 an ounce to the London global benchmark, an indication of good buying interest.

Silver shed 2.2 percent to a three-month low of $15.26 an ounce and palladium was down 1.4 percent at $789.47 an ounce.

(By Marcy Nicholson and Clara Denina; Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; editing by David Goodman, David Clarke and G Crosse)