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Easing North Korea tensions push gold lower

Key Points
  • North Korea signals delay to missile launch plans.
  • Dollar, stocks, bond yields rise.
  • Technical support at $1,274.70.

Gold fell for a second day on Tuesday as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signalled he would delay a decision on firing missiles towards Guam, encouraging investors to buy riskier assets and boosting stocks, the dollar and bond yields.

Gold, seen as a safe haven in times of uncertainty, rose to a two-month high of $1,291.86 on Friday after a week of escalating military threats between Washington and Pyongyang. "Global tensions seem now to be ratcheting down," said Robin Bhar, head of metals research at Societe Generale.

"Investors are looking to liquidate (positions in gold) and pick up some more risky assets."

The shift to riskier assets is doubly negative for gold because a stronger dollar makes dollar-priced gold costlier for holders of other currencies, while higher bond yields raise the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

Spot gold was down 0.75 percent at $1,272.30 per ounce.

U.S. gold futures for December delivery were settled down at $1,279.70 per ounce.

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Also weighing on gold prices was the prospect of another increase in U.S. interest rates, with an influential Federal Reserve official saying on Monday he would support one more rise this year. Gold is highly sensitive to rising interest rates because they push bond yields higher and tend to strengthen the dollar.

The retreat from Friday's high is the third time this year that gold has failed to reach $1,300, a key technical level. That, combined with the easing of tensions over North Korea and a large amount of speculative long positioning, meant there was a compelling case for further downside erosion, at least in the short term, INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir said in a note.

Data on Friday showed hedge funds and money managers increased their net long position in COMEX gold for the fourth straight week to a near two-month high in the week to Aug. 8.

Technical fibonacci supports for gold were at $1,274.70 and $1,261.30, said ScotiaMocatta analysts in a note.

In other precious metals, silver was down 2.29 percent to $16.63 an ounce, falling below its 100- and 200-day moving averages.

Platinum was down 0.56 percent at $959.55 after earlier touching its lowest in a week at $953.50. Palladium was 1.14 percent lower at $884.78 an ounce.