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Gold slips as investors eye higher US interest rates

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Gold prices fell 1 per cent to a 2-1/2-week low on Tuesday, as investors focused on expectations for higher US interest rates, even as US stock markets swung wildly in both directions a day after the Dow and S&P 500 indexes tumbled.

[NEW YORK] Gold prices fell 1 per cent to a 2-1/2-week low on Tuesday, as investors focused on expectations for higher US interest rates, even as US stock markets swung wildly in both directions a day after the Dow and S&P 500 indexes tumbled.

Spot gold was down 1 per cent at US$1,326.51 an ounce by 2.41pm EST (1941 GMT), erasing Monday's 0.5 per cent gain, having earlier dropped to US$1,325.61, its lowest since Jan 18.

US gold futures for April delivery settled down US$7, or 0.5 per cent, at US$1,329.50 per ounce.

"Gold is looking at higher interest rates today," said Walter Pehowich, executive vice-president of investment services at Dillon Gage Metals.

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Strength in the US dollar index weighed on gold prices earlier, when world stock markets extended their sell-off. The greenback later turned flat.

A stronger dollar typically makes commodities priced in the greenback more expensive for buyers using other currencies.

Gold saw no safe-haven boost from tumbling equity markets this week because the US economy is still seen as robust and shares are expected to rebound, traders said.

"When the dollar and Treasury yields went up, gold had no place to go and it wasn't the safe haven that everybody was looking forward to. When the stock market sold off, the dollar seemed to be getting all the activity instead of gold," Mr Pehowich said.

Markets had been anticipating up to four US interest rate hikes this year. However, the economy may not be as strong as forecast, Mr Pehowich said, reducing the need for such aggressive action.

Higher interest rates make gold a less attractive investment because it pays no interest.

"Long-term, when the Fed looks like it will be more data-dependent and maybe Fed rate hikes would be down to two, gold could benefit," Mr Pehowich added.

Gold investors, frustrated that their bullish positions were not seeing gains, probably took profits, said Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist for US Bank Wealth Management.

"When we look at the fundamental data, it's really quite positive. We don't think we're seeing a crash (in equities) because of a sell-off. It's quite plausible the market is looking to take their safe havens off the table and enter a risk-on environment," he said.

Spot silver dropped 0.9 per cent to US$16.59 per ounce.

Platinum fell 0.5 per cent to US$984.50 per ounce after hitting a three-week low of US$979.74. Palladium shed 2.4 per cent to US$1,005.30 per ounce after touching US$999.22, its lowest since Dec 8.

REUTERS

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