Gold turns negative as dollar cuts losses after US data

Gold bullion bars and coins.
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Gold bullion bars and coins.

Gold turned negative on Wednesday, as the dollar briefly pared losses following U.S. manufacturing data and U.S. equities came off their lows, while the market tried to assess how close the Federal Reserve is to raising interest rates.

Data showed U.S. manufacturing activity expanded for a third straight month in May, but growth in new orders slowed further as factories grappled with sluggish overseas demand and weak capital spending in the energy sector.

Spot gold was down 0.2 percent at $1,212.31 an ounce, falling for the tenth out of the last 11 sessions. Gold shed around 6 percent in May, its biggest decline in six months. U.S. gold futures for August delivery settled down 0.2 percent at $1,214.70 an ounce.

"There is increasing expectation that there will be a (U.S.) rate hike by July and that has weighed on sentiment," ETF Securities analyst Nitesh Shah said.

"In the short term, the rate hike will be dollar positive and gold-price negative."

Later on Wednesday, the Fed's Beige Book report pointed to rising labor costs, potentially making policymakers more comfortable that inflation is on track to rise to the central bank's 2 percent target.

Higher U.S. rates would raise the opportunity cost of holding gold, and lift the dollar, making gold more expensive for buyers in other currencies.

The U.S. dollar hit its lowest level in two weeks against the yen but pared losses against the euro, yen, and Swiss franc after the U.S. manufacturing data.

"Gold should have rallied with the dollar selling off," said Phillip Streible, senior commodities broker for RJO Futures in Chicago.

"If we can't rally off the bullish news, we've got a patient on life support."

Bullion has climbed nearly 15 percent so far this year, but buckled after minutes from the Fed's April meeting boosted expectations for monetary tightening.

Analysts said further losses were possible, exposing psychological support at $1,200.

"Gold is likely to continue its outperformance relative to silver for the time being but we still think it's too early to 'buy the dip' outright, particularly ahead of Friday's deluge of U.S. data," ICBC Standard Bank said in a note, referring to upcoming non-farm payrolls, earnings, unemployment, services PMI and factory orders data.

Spot silver was down 0.13 percent at $15.96 per ounce. Spot platinum was down 0.66 at $970.93, while palladium fell 0.41 percent to $544.