Gold drops on stronger equities, U.S. retail sales data

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 15, 2014 05:06 hrs

Gold retreated for a second session on Wednesday, moving further away from a one-month high, as a rally in stock markets prompted by strong U.S. retail sales data dented the metal's appeal as a safe haven.

The metal had been rising in the days before the retail sales data as a disappointing jobs report last week stoked speculation the U.S. Federal Reserve could slow the pace of its stimulus tapering.

Spot gold eased 0.3 percent to $1,241.46 an ounce by 0348 GMT. It touched a one-month peak of $1,255 early on Tuesday before ending the day 0.7 percent lower.

"Gold is very sensitive to U.S. economic data as that directly affects the outlook for tapering," said one precious metals trader in Hong Kong.

"The retail sales report was good but the next big thing is going to be the Fed meeting later this month."

The Fed holds its next policy meeting on January 28-29.

U.S. retail sales edged up in December with a core spending gauge posting a big jump, a sign the economy gathered steam at the end of last year and was poised for stronger growth in 2014.

Asian shares made guarded gains on Wednesday, following the data, while Wall Street and the dollar rose.

The Fed announced its first cut to the $85 billion in monthly bond purchases in December, citing an improving economy. Markets are now closely watching economic data to gauge the pace of the bank's cuts.

Two Fed officials on Tuesday said the U.S. central bank should bring its bond-buying program to a swift close, with one vowing to use his vote to support cuts to the program even if stocks tumble.

Despite the recent price gains, investor sentiment continued to be bearish as seen in outflows from SPDR Gold Trust. The world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund said its holdings fell 3.56 tonnes to 789.56 tonnes on Tuesday -- a fresh five year low.

In the physical markets, premiums on the Shanghai Gold Exchange for 99.99 percent purity gold remained steady at about $13 an ounce.

Traded volumes hit a one-week high on Tuesday.

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