Gold slips as dollar gains on US jobs data, political tensions underpin

Key Points
  • Britain expels Russian diplomats, drawing Moscow's ire
  • Dollar steadies versus currency basket
  • New U.S. adviser seen backing stronger dollar

Gold slipped on Thursday, under pressure from a stronger dollar, although tensions between Britain and Russia limited the precious metal's decline a day after it hit a one-week high.

The dollar index rose versus a currency basket as traders, awaiting next week's U.S. Federal Reserve meeting, eyed data that showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week.

Spot gold was down 0.62 percent at $1,316.38 per ounce at 2:520 p.m. EST. U.S. gold futures for April delivery were down 0.69 percent at $1,316.50 per ounce.

"The risk is that the Fed will hike more than just three times this year and the European Central Bank might wait longer than the market has priced in (before it hikes)," said Quantitative Commodity Research analyst Peter Fertig.

A stronger dollar makes dollar-priced gold costlier for investors using other currencies. Moscow said it would retaliate against London's move to expel 23 Russian diplomats over a nerve toxin attack on a Russian former double agent in Britain.

"Gold is finding support from the escalating political crisis between the UK and Russia," Commerzbank said in a note, but added it could face headwinds after the U.S. president's new economic adviser had "spoken out in favour of a strong dollar."

U.S. television commentator and conservative economic analyst Larry Kudlow was appointed Donald Trump's top economic adviser, replacing Gary Cohn who quit after the president decided to impose new metal tariffs.

Some questioned the net effect of Kudlow's comments. "I think Kudlow's comments will probably support more of a trade war rhetoric than a stronger dollar," said a Hong Kong based trader, adding "gold needs to close above the $1,330 level to start getting some traction."

U.S. stocks opened higher, taking support from strong economic data, although fears that Trump's decision to impose fresh tariffs on China may escalate into a trade war simmered in the background.

China's widely read state-run tabloid the Global Times said the United States was trying to play the victim with its claims of trade imbalances while Europe's export powerhouse Germany warned that a trade war could "cause tangible damage."

In other metals, silver fell 0.65 percent to $16.391 per ounce and platinum fell 0.58 percent to $952.90 per ounce.

Palladium was down 0.27 percent at $984.50 per ounce after hitting $1,006.30 in the previous session, a high since March 1.