×

Gold turns lower after nearing 15-month high as dollar firms

Two hundred and fifty gram gold bars sit stacked in this arranged photograph at Solar Capital Gold Zrt. in Budapest, Hungary.
Akos Stiller | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Two hundred and fifty gram gold bars sit stacked in this arranged photograph at Solar Capital Gold Zrt. in Budapest, Hungary.

Gold turned lower on Tuesday, after nearing the prior session's 15-month top, as the U.S. dollar moved higher and a Federal Reserve official pointed to the possibility of two interest rate hikes in 2016.

Spot gold was down 0.39 percent at $1,286.01 an ounce, off a session high of $1,302. It reached its strongest level since January 2015 at $1,303.60 an ounce on Monday.

U.S. gold futures for June delivery settled down 0.3 percent at $1,295.80 an ounce, and last traded down 0.59 percent at $1,288.10.

Pressure came from the U.S. dollar against a basket of major currencies, which shifted higher for the first time in seven sessions in a dramatic turnaround from its lowest level in more than 15 months.

"Any correction in the dollar is going to lend a correction in gold," said Eli Tesfaye, senior market strategist for brokerage RJO Futures in Chicago.

Technically, both the gold and dollar markets were correcting, Tesfaye said, adding that gold broke above an "ascending triangle" late last week when the dollar fell below a "descending triangle."

Earlier in the session, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart told reporters: "Two rate hikes are certainly possible (in 2016). We have enough (Fed policy) meetings remaining but it depends entirely on how the economy evolves."

Gold prices have gained 21 percent since the start of the year on the outlook that the Fed has slowed its expected pace of rate increases.

Bullion is sensitive to rising interest rates, which lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, while boosting the dollar.

"Many market players think that monetary policies of various central banks will remain loose for a prolonged period of time and U.S. rates will stay low for longer," said Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann.

Recent dollar weakness and strength in the gold price have triggered a sharp increase in money flowing into the SPDR Gold Trust, the world's top gold-backed exchange-traded fund (ETF).

Assets of the fund rose 20.8 tonnes to 824.94 tonnes on Monday in the biggest increase since Feb. 22. Holdings are at their highest since December 2013.

Upcoming key data includes U.S. nonfarm payrolls due on Friday. The U.S. economy is expected to have added 200,000 jobs in April, slightly fewer than in March.

Among other precious metals, silver futures were down 1.28 percent. Platinum futures were down 1.7 percent at $1,067.50 an ounce, after rising to a 10-month high of $1,089.70 an ounce, while palladium futures fell 3.56 percent to $602.50 an ounce.