Gold up on softer dollar, but crude oil slump curbs upside

LONDON: Gold rose on Monday, as uncertainty about how fast the Federal Reserve will tighten interest rates next year weighed on the dollar.

Stronger European shares and a renewed slump in crude oil prices, which hit levels unseen since 2004, curbed gold’s ascent. The metal is usually seen as a hedge against oil-led inflation, while appetite for risk keeps demand for safer assets such as gold limited.

Spot gold was up 0.5 percent at $1,071.31 an ounce by 1031 GMT, following a 1.4 percent gain on Friday.

Liquidity is expected to drop as trading enters the last two weeks of the year.

The metal saw bids on Friday after the dollar slipped against the yen on views the Bank of Japan may not ease policy as much as expected.

However, the outlook for the dollar remains constructive on higher US rates.

“The dollar will continue to be a drag for gold next year and more importantly the US real rates and equity risk premium will help drive gold lower,” Deutsche Bank analyst Michael Hsueh said.

“We have a view that we’ll get 3 to 4 25 basis point US rate hikes in 2016, bringing the 10-year real rate lower, although … the yield curve is expected to ease a bit, but still not making it easy for gold,” he added. “We are targeting $980 for the fourth quarter next year.”

The benchmark 10-year US Treasury yield steadied at 2.2 percent. As gold pays no interest, the rise in returns from US bonds and other markets is seen as negative for the metal. Gold had fallen 2 percent on Thursday, the metal’s biggest single-day loss in five months, as the Federal Reserve raised US interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade.

In the run up to the Fed move, speculators built a record bearish bet in COMEX gold, US Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed on Friday, a factor that could trigger some short-covering.

“We believe the pace of US rate hikes will decide the fate of gold,” ANZ said in a note. The metal could revisit $1,000 for the first time in six years if it breaks below its early December low at $1,045, according to technical analysts.

Assets in SPDR Gold Trust, the top gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose 2.98 percent to 648.92 tonnes on Friday, the first increase in two months.

Total holdings had fallen to a seven-year low last week.Silver rose 0.6 percent to $14.21 an ounce, while palladium was up 0.1 percent at $558.27 an ounce and platinum gained 0.4 percent at $861.96.

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