Gold fell on Wednesday as the dollar strengthened on hawkish comments overnight from U.S. Federal Reserve officials, while an eagerly awaited speech by U.S. President Donald Trump contained few specifics or surprises. Spot gold had dropped 0.5 percent to $1,244.93 per ounce by 0345 GMT. The metal hit its highest since Nov. 11 at $1,263.80 on Feb. 27. U.S. gold futures fell 0.8 percent to $1,243.60. Trump pledged to overhaul the immigration system, improve jobs and wages for Americans and promised “massive” tax relief to the middle class and tax cuts for companies. “The speech was very light on detail … I suspect it has a bit turned into a damp squib. There were no new policy announcements there and a lot of it is already built into the U.S. dollar,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA. “I would expect U.S. dollar to weaken in the coming hours and things like gold and oil should rally.” The president had already said on Monday that he would propose a budget that would increase spending on defence while seeking savings elsewhere.
The dollar index was up 0.4 percent at 101.480. A handful of Fed policymakers on Tuesday boosted expectations for a March U.S. interest rate increase, with comments that suggested rate-setters are worried about waiting too long in the face of pending economic stimulus from Washington. The comments sparked a flurry of selling in the bond market, with the two-year Treasury yield jumping to its highest level since December. Interest rate futures implied traders saw nearly a 57-percent chance the Fed would raise rates at its March 14-15 meeting, up from roughly 31 percent late on Monday, and around 20 percent a week ago, according to Reuters data. “I believe that the March Fed meeting is live now and we may even see a rate hike.
Maybe the markets will turn their attention towards that,” Halley said. “But, Fed Chair Janet Yellen speaking on Friday should be quite important now. If she is towards the hawkish side, then the March meeting will be live and strengthen the dollar.” Spot gold may stabilize around support at $1,244 per ounce, and then rise into a range of $1,252-$1,258, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao. Spot silver fell 0.2 percent to $18.25 per ounce. Platinum was down 0.4 percent at $1,018.74, while palladium rose 0.2 percent to $771.50.