Gold eases after rally; Bernanke boosts sentiment

Gold eases after rally; Bernanke boosts sentiment

Last Updated: Tue, Mar 27, 2012 07:14 hrs
An employee holds replicas of turtles made of gold during a photo opportunity at a jewellery shop in Seoul

Gold edged down on Tuesday as it consolidated after its biggest daily gain since late January in the previous session when the U.S. Federal Reserve signalled it would keep interest rates low - a move which burnishes the metal's safe-haven appeal.

A weaker U.S. dollar also supported gold after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said ultra-loose monetary policy was still needed to reduce unemployment even though the U.S. economy has shown signs of improvement, raising hopes of another round of quantitative easing.

Gold fell $2.15 to $1,689.59 an ounce by 0555 GMT, having risen to $1,693.39 on Monday, its strongest since March 13, on safe-haven buying driven by Bernanke's comments. Bullion struck a record around $1,920 an ounce last September.

"For the next few days, we could see the market challenge the upside, although I am not sure it will manage to significantly break above $1,700. It may be capped at around the $1,720 level," said Nick Trevethan, a senior commodity strategist at ANZ in Singapore.

"The weaker dollar is very supportive. Going forward, market sentiment should be more friendly towards commodities right after Bernanke's commentary."

Monday's rally was the reverse of what gold experienced on February 29, when the metal posted its biggest one-day drop in more than three years after Bernanke stopped short of signaling further bond buying.

U.S. gold added $3.70 an ounce to $1,689.30.

The U.S. dollar held near a near one-month low against a basket of major currencies on Tuesday after the Fed signalled supportive monetary policy would remain and kept alive hopes of more stimulus for the U.S. economy.

Bernanke's comments supported views that easy monetary policy would remain in place for some time and fanned expectations for more Fed asset purchases. Previous rounds of quantitative easing have weakened the U.S. dollar and boosted U.S. and global stocks.

"Key to direction, however, will be Chinese PMI data released Sunday, the March U.S. non-farm payrolls and, of course, the Fed meeting, where some in the market at least are expecting a hint about QE," said Trevethan at ANZ.

Asian stocks rebounded on Tuesday after Wall Street stocks jumped more than 1 percent on Monday.

Global equities have been rallying since late last year, partly due to steadily improving U.S. economic data and massive doses of liquidity from central banks, but hit a bump in mid-March after China signaled its growth was moderating.

The physical market saw selling from Thailand, but top consumer India was on the sidelines because of a strike by jewellers to protest against a government levy.

"There's very light profit-taking from Thailand, while Indonesia has been quiet since yesterday. There's nothing much from India because their market is slowing down," said a physical dealer in Singapore.

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