Gold languished close to a near-six-year low on Monday, hurt by a robust dollar and upbeat comments by Federal Reserve officials regarding a US rate hike next month. FUNDAMENTALS Spot gold had fallen 0.3 percent to $1,074.91 an ounce by 0045 GMT, extending Friday's 0.4-percent drop. The metal declined to $1,064.95 last week, the lowest since February 2010. Speculation that the Fed will lift interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade this year has intensified since the release of strong US jobs data earlier this month, which triggered a sharp drop in gold prices. Higher rates tend to weigh on gold, as they lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding assets, while boosting the dollar. There is a "strong case" for raising interest rates when Fed policymakers meet next month, as long as US economic data does not disappoint, San Francisco Fed President John Williams said on Saturday. The Fed should "soon" be ready to raise interest rates as US central bankers grow confident that low inflation will rebound and that employment remains stable, William Dudley, the influential head of the New York Fed, said on Friday. The dollar was trading near a seven-month high against a basket of six major currencies on Monday, weighing on gold. A strong greenback makes dollar-denominated gold more expensive for holders of other currencies. SPDR Gold Trust, the world's top gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said its holdings fell 0.18 percent to 660.75 tonnes on Friday, the lowest since September 2008. Hedge funds and money managers switched to a bearish position in COMEX gold contracts in the shortened week to November 17, as prices fell to the lowest in nearly six years, US Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed on Friday.