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Gold climbs before Fed meeting as investors weigh rates, Greece

[MELBOURNE] Gold rebounded from a weekly loss as investors weighed concerns that Greece may run out of cash holdings against mounting speculation the Federal Reserve is getting closer to raising US interest rates.

Bullion for immediate delivery traded 0.3 per cent higher at US$1,162.30 an ounce at 3:30 pm in Singapore after dropping as much as 0.4 per cent, according to Bloomberg generic pricing. The metal capped a second weekly drop on Friday after slumping to US$1,147.72 on March 11, the lowest level since Dec. 1.

Fed policy makers meet this week, and key to their debate will be whether the economy has gained enough steam to warrant removing a pledge to be "patient" on raising rates.

Greece is set to make its next repayment to the International Monetary Fund on Monday, further depleting cash reserves that risk running out this month unless a deal is reached with creditors. European leaders meet in Brussels this week after tensions between Greece and Germany escalated.

"Concerns about Greece has lent some support to gold," analysts at Kotak Commodity Services Ltd wrote in a note. "Weighing on the price is persisting strength in the US dollar. Optimism about the US economy has increased expectations" of higher rates, it said.

Greece's ambassador in Berlin last week made an official protest to the German Foreign Ministry over comments made by Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble. Gold rose as much as 10 per cent this year partly as Greece battled creditors in a dispute that threatened its membership in the European Union.

The dollar surged to the highest in a decade last week and hedge funds exited gold at the fastest pace in more than four months on mounting speculation the Fed is getting closer to raising the rates for the first time since 2006. Gains in the labor market may increase the chances the Fed will raise rates, eroding the haven appeal of gold. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose for a fourth straight week in the period ended March 13 and was 0.3 per cent lower on Monday.

Gold for April delivery advanced 0.7 per cent to US$1,160.80 on the Comex. Money managers cut their net-long wagers for a sixth week, US government data show. Holdings in exchange- traded products backed by gold declined for a 13th day on March 13, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Silver for immediate delivery increased 0.6 per cent to US$15.7424 an ounce. Palladium fell as much as 1.1 per cent to US$784.75 an ounce, the lowest since Feb. 24, and was at US$791.20. Platinum lost as much as 0.6 per cent to US$1,111.50 an ounce, the lowest since 2009, before rising 0.1 per cent to US$1,119.75.


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