Gold drops towards January lows as dollar hits 4-year peak

London (Sept 25)  Gold extended losses on Thursday, dropping towards its lowest since early January, as robust U.S. economic data curbed the metal's safe-haven appeal and the dollar index rallied to four-year highs.

Investors will be watching more U.S. data due later on Thursday, including durable goods orders for August, to gauge the strength of the world's largest economy and the implications for the Federal Reserve's monetary policy and the dollar.

Markets fear strong data could prompt the Fed to raise interest rates soon, a move that would affect non-interest-yielding assets such as bullion.

Asian stocks slipped despite overnight gains on Wall Street.

"The equity markets (have) been strong despite recent losses. This is keeping a rotational shift in funds from going into gold," HSBC analysts said in a note.

"Further dollar or equity gains could push gold below $1,200, which may trigger additional momentum selling," they said, adding that physical demand had so far kept prices from falling below that key psychological level.

Spot gold tumbled to $1,208.66 an ounce, before recovering slightly to $1,210.60 by 0638 GMT. It is not far from an 8-1/2-month low of $1,208.36 hit earlier in the week.

Silver, platinum and palladium fell over 1 percent, tracking gold and a stronger dollar.

The dollar was boosted by data on Wednesday that showed sales of new U.S. single-family homes surged in August to their highest level in more than six years, a sign the housing recovery remains on course.

A slump in the euro also helped the dollar, which scaled four-year highs on Thursday against a basket of major currencies. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi renewed a pledge to keep monetary policy loose for an extended period.

Gold has fallen about 6 percent this month, on course for its biggest monthly loss since June 2013. The metal has erased nearly all its gains for the year due to fears of a U.S. rate rise and the strengthening dollar.

Read More › Is shorting the euro the new one-way bet?

Physical demand has been subdued this year after a record 2013, when prices slumped by 28 percent, although demand has picked up in recent weeks.

The U.S. Mint has sold nearly 50,000 ounces of American Eagle gold coins so far in September, almost double its total in August, due to the sharp drop in gold prices.

Buying in top consumers China and India could pick up soon due to the onset of festivals and the wedding season.

News of central bank purchases failed to support gold prices. Russia added to its gold holdings for a fifth month in a row in August, while Kazakhstan raised its holdings by nearly 800,000 ounces, data from the International Monetary Fund showed on Thursday

Source: CNBC