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Gold hits 1-month low as global stocks touch highs

PROSPECTING GOLD
AP

Gold hit its lowest level in more than a month on Friday, falling for the third straight week as strength in global equities diverted interest from the precious metal, although uncertainty over the timing of a U.S. rate rise kept prices in a tight range.

Spot gold was down 1.4 percent at $1,177.03 an ounce, while U.S. gold futures for June delivery settled down $19.30 an ounce at $1,175. That marked spot gold's largest single-session decline since March 6.

Spot prices are down 2.2 percent this week, their biggest weekly loss in seven weeks.

World stocks hit all-time highs on Friday as corporate updates in Europe and a post-dotcom-boom peak for the U.S. Nasdaq stoked investor optimism.

"That takes investment demand away from gold," said Bill O'Neill, co-founder of commodities investment firm LOGIC Advisors in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. O'Neill noted that significant funds were flowing toward European and Japanese equities as well, which he called the "flavor of the moment."

The losses came despite a decline in the U.S. dollar, which hit a near three-week low against a basket of currencies after U.S. March durable goods orders data showed weakness in business investment spending, suggesting the economy is not strong enough for the U.S. Federal Reserve to lift rates.

Attention is turning to the Fed's policy meeting next week for stronger clues on when the U.S. central bank will start increasing rates. That would raise the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, while boosting the dollar.

Weak data on U.S. jobless claims, manufacturing and home sales have hurt the dollar this week, boosting uncertainty over whether the Fed will conduct its first U.S. rate rise in nearly a decade in June or September.

"All the U.S. data up to the next policy meeting will be (scrutinized)," said LBBW analyst Thorsten Proettel.