[SINGAPORE] Gold rose towards its highest in nearly two weeks on Wednesday, as more sluggish US economic data supported views that the Federal Reserve would delay a rate hike to next year.
Spot gold had risen 0.1 per cent to US$1,148.16 an ounce by 0331 GMT. The metal climbed to US$1,151.20 in the previous session, its highest since Sept 24. Liquidity was thin in Asian hours with top consumer China out on a holiday.
Data on Tuesday showed that US exports took a hit from an ailing global economy in August and imports from China surged, fuelling the largest expansion of America's trade deficit in five months.
The data, following a weak nonfarm payrolls report last week, has triggered a drop in the dollar and pushed expectations of a rate hike to next year.
"We have to suspect that as US macro data starts to deteriorate, the dollar will likely continue to weaken from here, providing further upside to impetus for gold," said INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir.
A softer dollar would make gold cheaper for holders of other currencies, while a delay in rate hike could also support non-interest-paying bullion.
Gold has benefited in recent years from ultra-low rates, which cut the opportunity cost of holding the metal.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen said last month she expected the US central bank to begin raising rates this year, but weak US economic data since then and caution about the global economy has prompted many to push out expectations.
The International Monetary Fund cut its global growth forecasts for a second time this year on Tuesday, citing weak commodity prices and a slowdown in China and warned that policies aimed at increasing demand were needed.
The Fed should be communicating its views of the economy well enough that markets will not be taken by surprise by an eventual interest-rate hike, San Francisco Fed President John Williams said on Tuesday.
Elsewhere, the value of China's gold reserves stood at US$61.2 billion at the end of September, down from US$61.8 billion at end-August, the People's Bank of China said on Wednesday.
Among other precious metals, silver held steady, trading near a 3-1/2-month high of US$16.08 reached in the previous session.
Platinum ticked higher, while palladium was trading near its highest since June.