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Gold drops to lowest in nearly 7 weeks; stronger US dollar, equities drag

[BENGALURU] Gold slipped to its lowest in nearly seven weeks early on Monday as the US dollar rose and equities gained, while growing expectations for a Federal Reserve interest rate hike in December also added to pressure.

Spot gold was down 0.3 per cent at US$1,274.90 an ounce by 0353 GMT, after earlier touching its lowest since mid-August at US$1,273.55.

US gold futures for December delivery shed 0.5 per cent to US$1,277.80.

The metal recorded its biggest monthly decline so far this year in September, despite netting a quarterly rise of nearly 3 per cent partly due to geopolitical tensions including North Korea's missile tests.

"The dollar is a bit stronger this morning and put gold under pressure first thing this morning so we took out Friday's low. China's out for Golden week so it's just moving on the back of what the dollar yen's doing," a Hong Kong-based trader said.

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"Gold might just keep drifting lower until the Chinese return. There's nothing really to excite gold at the moment."

US President Donald Trump on Sunday dismissed the prospect of talks with North Korea as a waste of time a day after his own secretary of state said the United States was maintaining open lines of communication with North Korea.

The US dollar stood tall against the euro and other major counterparts on Monday and Asian shares rose as investors kept an close eye on an independence vote in Spain's Catalonia.

The US currency recorded its best week of the year on Friday, despite benign inflation data for August, as expectations that the Fed would raise interest rates again in December loomed large after Fed Chair Janet Yellen said the central bank planned to stay on its current rate hike path.

Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker said Friday he still has "pencilled in" a rate hike in December, and three more hikes next year.

Higher interest rates tend to boost the dollar and push bond yields up, weighing on greenback-denominated gold.

Spot gold may drop into a range of US$1,261-US$1,267 per ounce, as it has cleared a support at US$1,277, Reuters technicals analyst Wang Tao said.

Speculators reduced their net long positions in Comex gold and silver contracts in the week to Sept 26, US data showed on Friday.

Silver and palladium were little changed at US$16.60 an ounce and US$934.30 an ounce, while platinum lost 0.2 per cent at US$907.40 and continued to trade at a discount to platinum for a fourth consecutive day.


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