Futures & Commodities

Gold falls to 3-week low on rate hike talk

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Gold fell for a second day on Thursday, reaching its lowest level in three weeks, after the Federal Reserve hinted at a possible U.S. interest rate rise in December.

, stronger initially due to a retreat in the dollar, fell as much as 0.9 percent to its lowest since Oct. 9 at $1,145.43 an ounce. It was last down 0.8 percent at $1,146.10.

U.S. gold futures for December delivery settled down 2.4 percent at $1,147.30 an ounce. The fall was more exaggerated than the spot market because the U.S. market settled firm on Wednesday, before the release of the Fed statement that pressured prices.

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The Fed kept interest rates unchanged on Wednesday, as expected, but in a direct reference to its next policy meeting, the central bank put a December rate increase firmly in play.

The U.S. central bank said that raising rates at its next meeting would depend on progress on employment and inflation, omitting any reference to global developments affecting economic activity.

"The consensus was for the first rate hike to occur in early 2016, so certainly yesterday's statement was read as hawkish compared to expectations," Capital Economics analyst Simona Gambarini said.

In recent weeks, investors had bet that the Fed would delay its first rate hike in nearly a decade until next year because of weakness in the global economy and its impact on the United States.

Rate-futures traders boosted bets that the Fed would raise rates at its next meeting on Dec 15-16.

The surprisingly hawkish tone of Fed chair Janet Yellen sent the dollar soaring to a two-month high. Though it turned down around 0.5 percent Thursday, gold prices continued to fall.

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"The statement was leaning a bit to the hawkish side but I don't think it was that hawkish to justify this size of decline," said Bill O'Neill, co-founders of commodities investment firm Logic Advisors in New Jersey.

"There's a liquidation without any new buyers. Nobody wants to step in here."

Data on Thursday showed U.S. economic growth braked sharply in the third quarter, but solid domestic demand could encourage the Fed to raise rates in December.

Holdings in SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.17 percent to 694.34 tons on Wednesday.

Industrial metals also fell on Thursday, with platinum down 0.9 percent at $989 an ounce and palladium falling 1.5 percent to $667.50. Silver dropped 2.1 percent to $15.58.