Gold down on hawkish comments by Fed officials, US dollar pressure

[BENGALURU] Gold fell on Wednesday as the US dollar strengthened on hawkish comments overnight from US Federal Reserve officials, while an eagerly awaited speech by US President Donald Trump contained few specifics or surprises.

Spot gold had dropped 0.5 per cent to US$1,244.93 per ounce by 0345 GMT. The metal hit its highest since Nov 11 at US$1,263.80 on Feb 27.

US gold futures fell 0.8 per cent to US$1,243.60.

Mr Trump pledged to overhaul the immigration system, improve jobs and wages for Americans and promised "massive" tax relief to the middle class and tax cuts for companies.

"The speech was very light on detail... I suspect it has a bit turned into a damp squib. There were no new policy announcements there and a lot of it is already built into the US dollar," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda.

"I would expect US dollar to weaken in the coming hours and things like gold and oil should rally."

The president had already said on Monday that he would propose a budget that would increase spending on defence while seeking savings elsewhere.

The US dollar index was up 0.4 per cent at 101.480.

A handful of Fed policymakers on Tuesday boosted expectations for a March US interest rate increase, with comments that suggested rate-setters are worried about waiting too long in the face of pending economic stimulus from Washington.

The comments sparked a flurry of selling in the bond market, with the two-year Treasury yield jumping to its highest level since December.

Interest rate futures implied traders saw nearly a 57 per cent chance the Fed would raise rates at its March 14-15 meeting, up from roughly 31 per cent late on Monday, and around 20 per cent a week ago, according to Reuters data.

"I believe that the March Fed meeting is live now and we may even see a rate hike. Maybe the markets will turn their attention towards that," Mr Halley said.

"But, Fed Chair Janet Yellen speaking on Friday should be quite important now. If she is towards the hawkish side, then the March meeting will be live and strengthen the dollar."

Spot gold may stabilise around support at US$1,244 per ounce, and then rise into a range of US$1,252-US$1,258, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Spot silver fell 0.2 per cent to US$18.25 per ounce.

Platinum was down 0.4 per cent at US$1,018.74, while palladium rose 0.2 per cent to US$771.50.



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