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Gold firm on lower dollar, eyes on US rate hike signals

AP

Gold rose on Monday as the dollar edged lower as expectations dwindled that the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rate this year.

Data on Friday showed U.S. retail sales were unexpectedly flat in July, signaling a moderation in consumer spending.

Spot gold was up 0.26 percent at $1,339.22 an ounce. The metal rose as much as 1.3 percent after the data on Friday, before giving up gains. U.S. gold was up 0.1 percent at $1,344.60 an ounce.

U.S. gold settled up 0.3 percent at $1,347.50.

"I would attribute it to a little easing in the U.S. dollar and somewhat robust oil prices," said Bart Melek, head of commodity strategy for TD Securities in Toronto, referring to the reasons behind higher gold prices.

"That means there's a bit of potential for more appetite given that central banks are still easing."

The dollar was down 0.1 percent against a basket of currencies, while Wall Street stocks rose to record highs on expectations for continued monetary policy easing around the world.

A lower dollar makes gold cheaper for other currency holders. Higher shares, however, signal increased investor risk appetite.

"We have Fed minutes coming out in the middle of the week, which is likely to tell us what the Fed's thinking is going into the second half of the year, when it probably going to come under pressure to raise rates," Mitsubishi Corp strategist Jonathan Butler said.

"In general the negative rate environment, particularly in the euro zone and Japan, is going to keep gold well bid and even though we may be seeing some tempering of gold's gains by the pretty strong equity market performance right now, that is going to come into question as the Fed looks to raise rates."

Central bankers and governments must come up with new policies to buffer their economies against persistently low interest rates that threaten to make future recessions deeper and more difficult to avoid, San Francisco Fed President John Williams said.

Inflation figures for July are also high on the U.S. calendar this week.

Looking at speculative positioning and also exchange-traded funds, some profit-taking can be seen, which will keep prices in the current range below $1,360, Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann said.

Speculators cut their net long positions in COMEX gold and silver contracts in the week to Aug. 9, U.S. government data showed late Friday.

Silver was up 0.50 percent at $19.79 an ounce.

Platinum fell to a near three-week low of $1,107.24 and palladium was up 1.2 percent at $692.30.