Gold dips further from 3-1/2 month peak as dollar fights back

  • Euro takes a breather after run higher
  • Speculators raise COMEX gold net longs
PROSPECTING GOLD
AP

Gold edged down on Monday, retreating further from last week's 3-1/2 month high as the dollar clawed back some ground against the buoyant euro and as traders bet on further increases to U.S. interest rates after Friday's payrolls data.

Dollar weakness, which continued into early January after its biggest annual drop since 2003, had helped to lift assets priced in the U.S. currency, with gold last week registering a fourth straight weekly gain for the first time since April.

Spot gold ended up 0.04 percent at $1,320.31 an ounce at 12:58 p.m. ET, while U.S. gold futures for February delivery were down 0.09 percent at $1,321.10.

"I think it would be healthy to see a further correction before testing $1,325," said Afshin Nabavi, head of trading at MKS. "The U.S. dollar is a touch firmer and the euro slightly lower." Near-term the metal is likely to be rangebound between $1,305 and $1,325, he added.

The dollar rose 0.5 percent against the euro on Monday. After mixed U.S. payrolls data on Friday, traders of U.S. short-term interest rate futures continued to bet that the Fed will lift rates twice in 2018, including a move in March.

Gold is highly sensitive to rising U.S. interest rates, which increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.

World stock markets hovered close to all-time highs on Monday as the best start to a year in eight years showed little sign of running out of steam.

"The extent and speed of the rally in gold prices is somewhat surprising as there are few pressing reasons to be bullish, indeed there are more headwinds than tailwinds," ScotiaMocatta said in a monthly note, citing rising U.S. equity markets as well as higher U.S. interest rates. "Perhaps it is because of the strength in other markets and the apparent complacency regarding geopolitical tensions that some investors are buying gold as an insurance in case the goldilocks set-up unwinds."

U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data on Friday showed that hedge funds and money managers raised their net long positions in COMEX gold in the week to Jan. 2.

Among other precious metals, silver was down 0.56 percent at $17.127 an ounce, having hit a 1-1/2-month high of $17.29 on Friday.

Platinum was up 0.11 percent to $970.50 an ounce after touching a more than 3-1/2-month peak at $970.50 and palladium was 0.8 higher percent to $1,098.97, off last week's record high of $1,105.70.