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Gold dragged down by US Fed rate hike views

Gold
Source: World Gold Council

Gold fell more than 1 percent on Friday, snapping a four-day streak of gains following conflicting signals from U.S. Federal Reserve officials on the timing of a possible rate hike, but was still on track for its second straight week higher.

Spot gold fell as much as 1.5 percent to a session low of $1,337.37 per ounce, paring losses to trade down 0.8 percent at $1,340.91. The yellow metal was still heading for a weekly gain of around 0.6 percent.

U.S. gold settled down 0.8 percent at $1,346.2 per ounce.

Gold is sensitive to higher rates which lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding assets such as bullion, while boosting the dollar in which it is priced.

There have been mixed signals this week from Federal Reserve policymakers, which left the market anticipating more direction at next week's annual meeting of central bankers from around the world in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. At that gathering Fed Chair Janet Yellen is seen likely to cement expectations for a slow pace of rate increases.

"We have had conflicting statements from the Fed and it's created quite a lot of confusion as to the thinking, so now the market is waiting to hear ... Yellen's thoughts on the world and economic growth," Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank.

The dollar rose 0.4 percent against a basket of six major currencies as investors began to price in a greater likelihood that the Fed will raise rates this year, while stocks on major markets fell worldwide.

"Gold prices could drop back in the short term if the Fed resumes its rate hikes sooner than the markets currently anticipate," said Capital Economics.

"But any pull-backs are likely to be temporary, particularly with the U.S. presidential elections coming up and the potential contagion of Brexit to the rest of the EU."

Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed ETF, fell for a second day.

"Looking beyond the paper gold and focusing on the physical market, which often determines longer-term price trends, we note that off take has been somewhat patchy," said Bank of America Merrill Lynch in a note. "We maintain our $1,500/oz target into 2017."

Spot silver fell as much as 2.6 percent to $19.23 an ounce, the lowest since July 21, and was last down 2.35 percent at $19.27.

Spot platinum was down 1.27 percent at $1,110.74 an ounce while palladium was down 0.63 percent at $7098.50.