Gold holds below $1,200; Fed outcome eyed

Reuters Singapore | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on December 17, 2014


Gold steadied at just below $1,200 an ounce on Wednesday ahead of the outcome of the US Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting of the year, when it may signal how soon it will raise interest rates.

Investors were also keeping an eye on Russia after the rouble plunged more than 11 per cent against the dollar on Tuesday despite a hefty interest rate hike by the country’s central bank.

Spot gold was nearly flat at $1,197.20 an ounce by 0300 GMT after a volatile session on Tuesday that pulled it to a one-week low of $1,188.41, before ending marginally higher.

FOMC meet

Investors will be watching whether the Federal Open Market Committee will remove the phrase “considerable time’’ in the statement it will release at 1900 GMT with regard to the timing of an interest rate hike.

Dropping that phrase would mean the Fed is preparing the market for a rate hike next year as the US economy gathers strength, analysts say, which could weaken the prices of non-interest bearing assets such as gold.

“I think the Fed will reaffirm that growth has indeed picked up and the data looks positive for the coming year,’’ said Barnabas Gan, analyst at OCBC Bank.

While Gan said the Fed might keep the ‘considerable time’ phrase to avoid shaking markets, investors were still looking to a higher interest rate environment in 2015 amid a rosier global economy backed by the US recovery.

US gold for February delivery rose 0.3 per cent to $1,198 an ounce.

Russian crisis

Gan said that with regard to Russia, the main risk was whether the country would sell its gold holdings to finance spending.

“If that happens, we would see gold taking another step down, possibly closer to our year-end forecast of $1,150,’’ he said.

The rouble has fallen nearly 20 per cent this week, taking its losses this year against the dollar to more than 50 per cent and stirring memories of the 1998 crisis when the currency collapsed within a matter of days, forcing Russia to default on its debt.

Other precious metals were firmer, with spot silver and platinum up nearly 1 per cent.

Published on December 17, 2014
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