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Gold hits 3-month high as traders bet on US rate hike delay

Gold
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Gold rose to its highest level since early July on Monday as expectations that the Federal Reserve will postpone an expected U.S. interest rate hike beyond the end of the year pressured the dollar to three-week lows against a currency basket.

The dollar index was up 0.03 percent on the day, stung by doubts that U.S. rates will rise this year.

Spot gold reached a peak of $1,169.00 an ounce and was up 0.4 percent at $1,161.80 an ounce, while U.S. gold futures for December delivery settled up $8.60 an ounce at $1,164.50.

Bets that U.S. rates would rise this year, increasing the opportunity cost of holding gold while lifting the dollar, pushed gold prices to 5-1/2 year lows in July.

However, mixed U.S. economic data and fears that a broader global economic slowdown would affect U.S. growth have since dampened those expectations.

"The idea in the market that the Fed will lift interest rates this year is out of the market," LBBW analyst Thorsten Proettel said. "People aren't expecting an interest rate hike this year, with the bad jobs data from the United States, and the problems in China."

On Monday, however, two Fed policymakers whose views are often at odds both suggested they could well support an interest rate hike in December, as long as the economic data does not disappoint and that rate hikes, once begun, are gradual.

Hedge funds and money managers raised their bullish bets in COMEX gold and silver to four-month highs in the week ended Oct. 6.

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"From the currency side and also from the positioning side, the gold price is getting some support," said Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke. "The technical picture is improving, so that might lure some more short-term bullish positioning back into the market."

In South Africa, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union voted to strike at three operations.

Palladium prices bucked the day's trend higher and fell as much as 2.6 percent to $689 an ounce, falling from Friday's four-month high. Pressure came from profit-taking, producer selling and short-term technical weakness after failing at the 200-day moving average, said Dan Izzo, vice-president, Global Marketing Strategy Group for brokerage RJO'Brien in New York.

"It has been overbought for a couple weeks now, ever since the palladium and platinum move from the Volkswagen fallout," Izzo said.

Silver was up 0.1 percent at $15.84 an ounce, while platinum was up 1.3 percent at $991.50 an ounce.