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Gold slips to lowest in nearly 2 weeks, US inflation data in focus

[BENGALURU] Gold edged down on Thursday to its lowest in nearly two weeks on waning risk aversion, and as the US dollar steadied ahead of US consumer inflation data that could offer clues on the timing of further interest rate hikes.

Spot gold was down 0.1 per cent at US$1,321.66 an ounce by 0342 GMT, after earlier dropping to its lowest since Sept 1 at US$1,318.75.

US gold futures for December delivery were down 0.2 per cent at US$1,325.60 an ounce.

"It's really just the dollar driving this at the moment and risk-on sentiment. Stock markets continue to make historic highs. It's difficult to hold gold in this scenario," a Hong Kong-based trader said.

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Asian stocks edged down on Thursday, consolidating after touching their highest in a decade.

The US dollar, which fell to 2-1/2 year low against a basket of currencies and hit a 10-month low against the yen last week, was steady ahead of the US inflation report for August, and a rebound in US producer prices in August had lent some support.

A stronger greenback makes dollar-denominated gold more expensive for holders of other currencies.

"Better-than-expected producer prices in the US raised the spectre of a stronger Consumer Price Index (CPI) number later today. That could change the market's view on whether the Federal Reserve will increase rates later this year," ANZ analyst Daniel Hynes said in a note.

Inflation is a key economic factor the US central bank considers when deciding monetary policy. A strong reading could raise expectations for future interest rate increases, which would put pressure on non-yielding bullion.

The Fed has a 2 per cent inflation target, and a series of subdued inflation readings have dampened expectations for the central bank to raise interest rates again this year and weighed on the US dollar.

"We haven't managed to push higher after North Korea," the trader said, referring to the non-event of a missile launch or nuclear test from the country over the past weekend when it marked its founding day.

"Down to the US$1,300 levels, it (gold) will start running into some support. You know you can never count them (North Korea) out of the equation."

Spot gold is expected to test a support at US$1,313 per ounce, a break below which could cause a loss to the next support at US$1,299, said Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

In other precious metals, silver slipped 0.1 per cent at US$17.70 an ounce.

Platinum was 0.1 per cent higher at US$977.95 an ounce, while palladium was up 0.2 per cent to US$938.75.