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Gold slips further from five-month high on Fed expectations

Gold
Source: World Gold Council

Gold slipped further on Monday from the previous session's five-months high, as expectations that the Federal Reserve will press ahead with interest rate hikes counterweighed concerns over political tensions in North Korea and the Middle East.

Spot gold fell 0.10 percent to $1,252.32 an ounce, little changed from late on Friday, while U.S. gold futures for June delivery were down $3.40 to settle at $1,253.90.

The metal rose above $1,270 on Friday for the first time since early November after much weaker than expected U.S. jobs data curbed expectations for near-term increases to U.S. interest rates and after the United States launched a missile strike on a Syrian air base.

It fell back quickly in later trade, however, failing once again to beat key chart resistance at its 200-day moving average, which has broadly capped gains since October.

"There appears to have been some profit taking after that move above the 200-day moving average on Friday," Mitsubishi analyst Jonathan Butler said.

"Friday's U.S. unemployment reading, which fell to a 10-year low, would appear to confirm that the United States is approaching full employment," he said. "This has increased the probability of a June rate rise... (and) clearly weighed on gold."

The dollar started the week near three-week highs against a basket of currencies after a key Federal Reserve official reinforced the U.S. central bank's commitment to continue raising interest rates.

Expectations that the pace of U.S. rate increases will pick up this year, lifting the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, have proved a major drag on gold.

The euro also came under pressure from worries over the tightening race for the French presidency.

The wider financial markets took on a more cautious tone on Monday, however, with trading volumes muted by geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and the Korean peninsula.

Top aides to President Donald Trump differed on Sunday on where U.S. policy on Syria was headed after last week's attack on a Syrian air base, while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned that the strikes were a warning to other nations, including North Korea.

"Geopolitical tensions are likely to be supportive and may put the brakes on what would otherwise be a retracement from the mid-March uptrend," MKS said in a note.

Among other precious metals, silver was down 0.39 percent at $17.89 an ounce, having hit its highest since Feb. 27 at $18.47 on Friday.

Platinum lost 1.44 percent to $937.80, while palladium dropped 1.90 percent to $786.25.