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Gold falls after robust U.S. data boosts risk sentiment

by April 4, 2016 General

LONDON Gold fell on Monday after strong U.S. economic data boosted investor risk sentiment, while uncertainty continued about the Federal Reserve’s interest rates path.

Spot gold eased 0.2 percent to $1,220.86 an ounce by 1333 GMT, while U.S. gold for June delivery slipped $1.40 to $1,222 an ounce.

Spot prices saw their biggest quarterly rise in nearly 30 years in the three months to March, rallying more than 16 percent on speculation the Fed was not in a hurry to normalize interest rates, but drifted back towards the key $1,200 level after hawkish comments from several Fed officials.

The U.S. central bank raised rates in December for the first time in nearly a decade.

“The Fed is still concerned about the global economic growth and the pace of interest rates increases will be gradual,” ETF Securities’ strategist Edith Southammakosane said.

“The FOMC minutes this Wednesday could provide a better idea of when the Fed plans the next rate hike.”

The minutes from the Fed’s March 15 to 16 Federal Open Market Committee meeting will be released on Wednesday.

The metal is highly exposed to rising rates, which lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding assets, while boosting the dollar.

“Gold market participants appear to put more weight on the strength of the U.S. economic data and what that will mean for the Fed’s rate decisions,” Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann said.

Data on Friday showed non-farm payrolls rose by 215,000 last month, higher than expectations of 205,000, underscoring the strength in the U.S. economy.

U.S. interest rate futures suggested traders are now betting the Fed will next raise rates as soon as November, versus December ahead of the report. Wall Street’s top banks held firm to their expectation for a rate hike in June, according to a Reuters survey conducted on Friday.

In the near term, support for gold sits around $1,215 and below this at $1,210, MKS Group said in a note.

Investor positioning in gold is largely bullish. Hedge funds and money managers boosted their bullish bet in gold in the week to March 29, to the highest since the end of 2012, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed on Friday.

Assets in SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.15 percent to 818.09 tonnes on Friday, but remain near the highest in over two years.

Silver gained 0.1 percent to $15.04, platinum slipped 0.2 percent to $952.25 and palladium fell 1.3 percent to $560.75.

(Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; editing by Susan Thomas)