Gold Futures Settle Lower As Dollar Stays Firm

December 15, 2018

New York (Dec 15)  Gold prices edged lower on Friday as the US dollar gained in strength against most major currencies, riding on fairly encouraging US retails sales data.

Besides the retail sales data, a likely 25-basis points hike in US interest rate next week supported dollar's uptick.

The Federal Reserve, which is scheduled to announced its monetary policy on December 19th, is widely expected to raise interest rate for the fourth time this year. However, contrary to earlier indications and expectations, the central bank is unlikely to keep hiking rates in the coming year.

The recent comments from the Fed Chair Jerome Powell that interest rates in the US are currently "just below" neutral and remarks by a couple of Fed officials that there could be a pause in rate hike sometime next year took some shine off the greenback in some of the recent sessions and pushed gold prices up a bit.

Weak economic data from the eurozone too contributed to the greenback's rise. The dollar index rose to a high of 97.71 before giving up some gains. At 97.44, the index was up by about 0.4% about an hour ago.

Gold futures for February ended down USD6.00, or 0.5%, at USD1,241.40 an ounce.

On Thursday, gold futures ended lower by USD2.60, or 0.2%, at USD1,247.40 an ounce. For the week, gold futures shed about 0.9%.

Silver futures for March settled at USD14.637 an ounce, down USD0.218 from previous close of USD14.855 an ounce.

Copper futures for March ended at USD2.7625, down USD0.0045 from Thursday's close of USD2.7670 per pound.

According to the report from the Commerce Department, retail sales growth in November was slightly weaker than expected due to a steep drop in sales by gas stations, although underlying retail sales growth remained strong. The report said retail sales edged up by 0.2% in November after spiking by an upwardly revised 1.1% in October.

Economists had expected retail sales to rise by 0.3% compared to the 0.8% increase originally reported for the previous month.

Meanwhile, the report said closely watched core retail sales, which exclude autos, gasoline, building materials and food services, increased by 0.9% in November after climbing by an upwardly revised 0.7% in October.

A separate report from the Federal Reserve said industrial production climbed by 0.6% in November compared to economist estimates for 0.3% growth. However, the industrial production data for October was revised to show a 0.2% drop compared to the previously reported 0.1% uptick.


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