Gold price hits 1-month low, heads for 3rd weekly drop ahead of Fed

New York (Sept 11)  Gold fell to a one-month low on Friday, heading for a third successive weekly loss, as uncertainty over the timing of the U.S. Federal Reserve's first interest rate increase in nearly a decade weighed on appetite for the metal.

Prices are down 2 percent this week, and touched their weakest level since August 11 at $1,099.05 an ounce on Wednesday.

Spot gold was down almost 1 percent at $1,100.41 an ounce, while U.S. gold futures for December delivery were down $9.80 an ounce at $1,099.50.

Traders are awaiting the Fed's next policy statement on Sept. 17 for clues on the timing of a U.S. interest rate rise, before taking any big positions in gold.

Gold has benefited in recent years from ultra-low rates, which cut the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion while weighing on the dollar, in which it is priced.

Concerns over slowing economic growth in China, mixed economic data and volatility in financial markets have increased uncertainty about the timing of any rate increase, which had been expected as early as this month.

"Our house view is that they will wait until December," Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann said. "I think that will lead to continued uncertainty in the gold market. The market would be in better shape if the Fed said clearly next week what it was going to do."

The dollar edged up 0.1 percent against a basket of currencies on Friday. Global stocks slipped into the red but remained on track for their biggest weekly gain in eight as investors grappled with the possibility of U.S. interest rates rising next week.

Physical gold demand among the major Asian consumers was relatively soft. Gold closed the week in a quiet fashion overnight in Asia, MKS said in a note, supported by modest Chinese demand but holding a tight range.

Two straight years of drought in India—for only the fourth time in over a century—have hit gold demand there and could cut imports by up to 10 percent in 2015, the head of a southern Indian regional gold federation said.

"A drop below $1,100 an ounce may elicit greater physical demand," HSBC said in a note.

Silver was down almost 2.5 percent at $14.28 an ounce, while platinum was down 1.7 percent at $961.74 an ounce and palladium was down 1.4 percent at $579.47 an ounce.

Palladium has been the best-performing precious metal this week, rising 1.4 percent to snap three weeks of losses.

Source: Reuters