Gold steady; market await Fed minutes

Last Updated: Wed, Nov 23, 2016 15:12 hrs
File photo of gold bullion is displayed at Hatton Garden Metals precious metal dealers in London

Gold stuck to a narrow range in Asian trade on Wednesday ahead of release of minutes from the Federal Reserve policy meeting earlier this month amid expectations of an interest rate hike in December.

Bullish homes sales data has added to signs of an improved U.S. economic outlook, with federal funds futures implying traders are pricing in a 100 pct chance of a December rate rise, according to the CME Group's FedWatch Tool.

Spot gold was unchanged at $1,212.45 an ounce by 0626 GMT. In the previous session, the metal eased 0.15 percent, hurt by strong equities. U.S. gold futures rose 0.1 percent to $1,212.40 per ounce.

Analysts cautioned that higher interest rates and a more positive sentiment in equity markets could weigh further on gold prices.

Gold is highly sensitive to rising rates, which lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding assets such as bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.

"The risk-on sentiment continues to prevail in the market and gold prices will not be able to perform," said Helen Lau, an analyst at Argonaut Securities in Hong Kong.

"People would want to participate in the equity rally. The gold ETFs continue to decline and investors are trying to reduce their exposure to gold."

SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said its holdings fell 0.42 percent to 904.91 tonnes on Tuesday. Holdings have dropped 4 percent so far this month.

While Trump's U.S. presidential victory has spurred safe-haven buying of physical gold in Europe, traditional bullion holders in the United States are standing pat.

"It seems that there is little on the horizon that could materially change the bearish trifecta comprising of a stronger dollar, higher U.S. rates and U.S. equities," INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir said in a note.

"These are formidable headwinds for gold to get through and as a result, we suspect that the precious metal will be under further pressure, likely taking out $1,200 support in fairly short order."

Spot gold looks neutral in a range of $1,204-$1,222 per ounce, and an escape could indicate a direction, according to Reuters technicals analyst Wang Tao.

"Expectations leading into the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday are that gold will continue to trade heavily but rangebound," MKS PAMP Group trader Sam Laughlin said.

Silver was up 0.2 percent to $16.66 per ounce and platinum was 0.56 percent higher at $942.20.

Palladium was down 0.14 percent at $739.00, after touching its best since early June at $749.40 in the previous session.

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