Gold rises on soft dollar ahead of Fed policy statement

San Francisco (Jan 27)   Gold rose 1 percent on Tuesday after two sessions of losses, as the dollar and shares eased ahead of a U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting that may push back expectations for when U.S. interest rates will start to rise.

The Fed started its first two-day policy meeting of the year on Tuesday and investors expect it to acknowledge the uncertain global outlook and stick to its promise to be patient on tightening.

Spot gold was up 1 percent at $1,293.06 an ounce by 2:27 p.m. EST (1927 GMT). The metal had fallen 1.6 percent in the previous two sessions on strong equities and uncertainties over the Greek election. Gold hit a five-month high of $1,306.20 on Thursday.

U.S. gold futures for delivery in February settled up 1 percent at $1,291.70 an ounce as February options expired with heavy open interest around $1,275, $1,280 and $1,300, traders said.

"February options expiry today is helping gold, also of course the weak dollar, weak politics in (European) areas," said George Gero, precious metals strategist for RBC Capital markets in New York.

This, as well as the Fed meeting, brought safe-haven buyers back to the gold market, Gero said.

The dollar fell up to 1 percent against a basket of leading currencies, while global stock indexes fell following disappointing U.S. corporate earnings results and an unexpected decline in U.S. durable goods orders.

"The FOMC (Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee) meeting could give a bit of a boost if the Fed acknowledges the global ... headwinds and that inflation is not a problem," Societe Generale analyst Robin Bhar said.

The Fed's timetable remains for an increase in rates by mid-year, a move that could further boost the dollar and hurt bullion, a non-interest-bearing asset.

Gold will face a third year of losses, averaging $1,234 an ounce this year, as the United States prepares for its first interest rate rise in nearly a decade, a Reuters poll of traders and analysts showed.

In the physical markets, buying has slowed due to higher prices. In Singapore, premiums have fallen to between 70 cents and $1 an ounce, from $1.20 earlier this month, while they were at 50 to 70 cents an ounce in Hong Kong, down from $1 two weeks ago.

Among other precious metals, spot silver was up 0.9 percent at $18.03 an ounce. Palladium was up 0.1 percent at $781 an ounce, while platinum rose 0.9 percent to $1,259.25 an ounce.

Source: Reuters