Gold lower but still set for fourth week of gains

Written by Reuters | London | Updated: Jun 28 2014, 00:08am hrs
Gold edged lower on Friday yet was on course for a fourth straight week of gains as a lower dollar following weak U.S. data limited the downside.

U.S. consumer spending rose less than expected in May, prompting economists to downgrade estimates for second-quarter growth.

Spot gold was down 0.2 percent at $1,315.54 an ounce by 1205 GMT. On Tuesday of this week it hit $1,325.90, its highest since mid-April. It was up 0.1 percent on the week.

U.S. gold futures for August delivery was unchanged at $1,316.90 an ounce.

"Gold's race higher started after the Fed's comments last week, which have weighed on the dollar," Natixis analyst Bernard Dahdah said.

"But momentum is fading and prices look likely to move sideways until something big happens on the geopolitical side or if any bad data comes out of the United States."

At a June 18 meeting, the U.S. Federal Reserve sounded comfortable about the inflation outlook, dashing some expectations the central bank might have to start lifting rates earlier than expected.

A low interest rate environment has encouraged investors to put money into non-interest-bearing assets such as gold after the 2008 credit crisis.

On Friday, European equities inched up but were facing their first week of losses since April. The dollar was down 0.1 percent against a basket of currencies, on course for a modest weekly fall after downbeat U.S. spending data gave investors no reason to expect higher U.S. interest rates anytime soon.

However, St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard said on Thursday that raising rates by the end of the first quarter of 2015 would be appropriate, based on his own forecast that the U.S. economy would register growth of 3 percent for the next four quarters.

The dollar was weighed down by a four-week low in the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield.

Lower returns on U.S. bonds, which are watched by the gold market as the metal pays no interest, helped propel prices higher earlier in the week.

On the political front, the situation in Iraq remained tense overnight after at least one armed forces helicopter crashed under fire from insurgents, while Russia warned of "grave consequences" after Ukraine signed a trade and political agreement with the European Union.

In times of political or financial trouble investors often turn to gold or other precious metals, which can be perceived as insurance against risk.

But traders warned that bullion could still see some choppy trading amid concerns over weak imports in top consumer China and the discovery of $15 billion of loans tied to falsified gold deals in the country.

China's gold imports from Hong Kong have weakened, with overseas purchases in May dropping to their lowest since January last year as the pace of buying calms after a record 2013.

Chinese demand has been quiet in recent months as a weaker yuan dulled the appeal of the metal.

Demand in major consumer India has also been subdued as the industry awaits a possible roll-back of import rules.

Silver fell 0.4 percent to $20.97 an ounce, still on track for a fourth week of gains, its longest winning streak since September 2012.

Platinum rose 0.8 percent to $1,474.50 an ounce, while palladium was up 0.5 percent at $836.75 an ounce.