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Gold hits 3-week low on firmer equities, dollar

Gold
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Gold fell to its lowest in three weeks on Wednesday on higher equities and as the dollar hit a four-month high following strong U.S. economic data, which raised expectations that the Federal Reserve may raise rates before the end of the year.

Spot gold fell as much as 1.4 percent to $1,313.20 an ounce earlier was last down 1.09 percent at $1317.17 an ounce. U.S. gold was down 1.07 percent at $1,318.10 an ounce. Gold futures settled at $1319.30 an ounce.

A fund that tracks gold mining companies was down 4.3 percent.

The dollar hit its highest for four months, still benefitting from data on Tuesday showing U.S. housing starts surged more than expected in June, underpinning a theme of strength in the U.S. economy.

"As the the probability of a Fed rate hike by the end of the year has now increased, speculators are taking profits after the good rally we have seen in gold in early July," Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann said.

Gold, which has risen 25 percent this year, is highly sensitive to rising rates, which increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding assets such as bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.

The metal was also dragged lower by advancing European and U.S. equities, which increased investor appetite for risk.

"There is a return in risk sentiment across the market in general right now, as you have more monetary stimulus packages from central banks," Mitsubishi Corp analyst Jonathan Butler said.

"Although more stimulus would also favor no-yielding gold, when there's pro-risk trading, there's also a retreat of some of those safe-haven elements that have supported the metal."

The International Monetary Fund, however, cut its global growth forecasts for the next two years on Tuesday, citing uncertainty over Britain's exit from the EU.

Investors are now waiting for the outcome of the European Central Bank meeting on Thursday.

Bullion gained $100 in the two weeks following Britain's looming exit from the EU, as worried investors started putting their cash into safe-haven assets, before falling back.

"There are still some headwinds to growth and this may lift safe-haven demand should the implications of Brexit start to unwind," OCBC Bank analyst Barnabas Gan.

Spot silver fell 1.98 percent to $19.50 an ounce.

Spot platinum was down 0.37 percent at $1,085 and ounce, while palladium, which touched an eight-and-a-half month high on Tuesday, was up 2.38 percent at $671.60 an ounce.