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Gold holds above US$1,200 on view US rate rise will be delayed

[SINGAPORE] Gold rose for a second session and held above US$1,200 an ounce on Thursday as comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen led investors to believe US interest rates would start to rise later than expected this year.

Firm Chinese physical demand also supported bullion as buyers from the world's No. 2 consumer trickled back into the market after the long Lunar New Year break, although it was not strong enough to push the spot price above Wednesday's peak.

Bullion was up 0.3 per cent at US$1,208.50 an ounce at 0302 GMT. It rose as much as 1 per cent to US$1,211.80 on Wednesday after Yellen indicated the Fed would be flexible in raising rates.

She told the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday that while the Fed was preparing to consider rate hikes on a"meeting-by-meeting basis", an increase was not likely for at least the next couple of meetings.

Ms Yellen did not offer any additional insight on the timing of a rate increase before the House of Representatives' Financial Services Committee on Wednesday. Markets had until now been focusing on June.

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The comments support "market thinking that the Fed may hike rates later this year and the path will be a little flatter than what was previously expected", said ANZ Bank analyst Victor Thianpiriya. "It's certainly taken a bit of the wind out of the US dollar's sails and that's been positive for gold." US gold for April delivery rose 0.6 per cent to US$1,208.60 an ounce.

Premiums on the Shanghai Gold Exchange remained firm at around US$4-$5 an ounce over the global spot price as buyers returned to the market after the Feb 18-24 holiday in China. "China remains a supportive factor for the market. But whether it's enough to really get prices rocketing higher, I don't think so, because what you really need for that is a supply shortage and we just don't have that at the moment," said Mr Thianpiriya.


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