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Gold flat, set for weekly rise on slower Fed rate-hike bets

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Gold prices held steady on Friday but were on track for a fifth straight weekly gain, as a weaker dollar and hopes of slower U.S. interest rate hikes boosted safe-haven bullion’s appeal.

FUNDAMENTALS

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* Spot gold was little changed at $1,930.59 per ounce, as of 0054 GMT. Prices rose 0.5% this week.

* U.S. gold futures rose 0.4% to $1,932.40.

* The dollar index was headed for a second consecutive weekly decline, making bullion cheaper for holders of foreign currency.

* Data on Wednesday showed U.S. retail sales fell by the most in a year in December, while producer prices fell more than expected last month, offering more evidence that inflation was receding.

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* The U.S. Federal Reserve will end its tightening cycle after a 25-basis-point hike at each of its next two policy meetings and then likely hold interest rates steady for at least the rest of the year, according to most economists in a Reuters poll.

* With lower rates translating into lesser returns on interest-bearing assets such as government bonds, investors may prefer zero-yield gold.

* The European Central Bank pushed back on Thursday against market bets that it would slow the pace of its interest rate hikes given recent falls in inflation and easing pressure to keep up with policy moves by other central banks.

* Spot silver gained 0.1% to $23.85 per ounce, platinum rose 0.1% at $1,033.33, and palladium was up 0.1% to $1,753.47.

DATA/EVENTS (GMT)

0115 China Loan Prime Rate 1Y, 5Y Jan

0700 UK Retail Sales MM, YY Dec

0700 UK Retail Sales Ex-Fuel MM Dec

1500 US Existing Home Sales Dec (Reporting by Ashitha Shivaprasad in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)



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