Gold dips, but holds above one-month low on weak US data

[NEW YORK] Gold dipped slightly on Tuesday, but held above a one-month low on a softer dollar and weak US economic data that dented expectations of an immediate hike in US interest rates.

Traders were waiting to hear from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen later in the session on US interest rate outlook amid recent hawkish comments from other Fed officials.

Spot gold was down 0.2 per cent at US$1,218.10 an ounce by 0302 GMT. The metal had fallen to a one-month low of US$1,208.15 on Monday, before closing the day up 0.4 per cent.

"If (Yellen) reinforces recent sentiment expressed by some of governors, we could see further dollar strengthening and corresponding pressure on gold," said INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir.

"However, our take ... is that she is exceedingly dovish and is loathe to disrupt expectations of a central bank firmly set on a very gradual rate trajectory and one that is gentler in slope than that being sketched out by her colleagues." Higher rates could hurt demand for non-interest paying gold.

Ms Yellen will be speaking on the economic outlook and monetary policy to the Economic Club of New York at 1620 GMT on Tuesday.

Last week, comments from several Fed officials put investors on guard for the possibility of at least two rates increases this year, triggering a widespread correction across commodities and bolstering the dollar.

Some officials said another rate hike could come as early as next month if the economy maintained its momentum.

The Fed raised rates in December for the first time in nearly a decade.

However, some of the expectations for an imminent hike in interest rates were dented after data on Monday showed US consumer spending barely rose in February and inflation retreated.

Following the weak data, economists slashed their first-quarter gross domestic product growth estimates, while the dollar fell 0.2 per cent against a basket of major currencies.

In the wider markets, Asian shares struggled to find their footing on Tuesday after downbeat US economic data contributed to an uninspiring session on Wall Street.


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