Gold falls on dollar as Fed officials keep rate rise talk alive

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Gold retreated for a third straight session on Thursday on a stronger dollar after Federal Reserve officials kept alive expectations for an interest rate rise some time this year despite recent weak economic data.

New York Fed President William Dudley and Fed Governor Jerome Powell on Wednesday sketched out scenarios in which the central bank could make an initial move earlier than many now expect, then move slowly on further increases.

Minutes from the Fed's March 17-18 meeting showed officials opening the door to a June rate rise.

Spot gold fell back below $1,200 an ounce after the minutes and comments and was trading down 0.6 percent at $1,203 an ounce.

U.S. gold for June delivery dropped about $8 an ounce to $1,195.

The metal retreated more than 2 percent from a seven-week high of $1,224.10 hit on Monday, after U.S. jobs data raised expectations the Fed would delay a rate rise.

Gold gets support; Here's the play
Gold gets support; Here's the play

"What happened after the U.S. non-farm payrolls on Friday was more of an exception, because people thinking the Fed would postpone the rate hike rushed to cover short positions," Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke said.

"The longer-term trend for gold is still down because... higher rates will happen eventually."

Any rise by the Fed, which has kept rates near zero since 2008 to stimulate the U.S. economy, could reduce demand for non-interest-yielding assets such as gold.

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"(Wider) markets seem to be getting more comfortable with rate increases or with the thought/potential of one... and obviously metals should struggle in that environment," Deutsche Boerse's MNI senior analyst Tony Walters said.

The dollar traded at one-week highs against a basket of major currencies, up 0.6 percent, as investors renewed bets on a 2015 rate increase.

Demand from top gold consumer India appeared stronger, while buying from No. 2 consumer China remained weak with the premium on physical gold at the Shanghai Gold Exchange at about a dollar over the global spot benchmark after flipping to a small discount earlier.