PRECIOUS-Gold eases after rally, but US stimulus hopes check losses

* Gold holds near $1,300 on U.S. stimulus outlook * Has already priced in delay in tapering -analyst * Asian shares edge up, dlr index nurses losses (Updates prices) By A. Ananthalakshmi SINGAPORE, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Gold looked set to snap a three-day winning streak on Monday, but prices held near $1,300 per ounce on hopes the U.S. Federal Reserve would stick to its easy monetary policy, burnishing the metal's appeal as a hedge against inflation. Spot gold had eased 0.2 percent to $1,286.96 an ounce by 0741 GMT. Prices rose nearly 2 percent in the previous three sessions, underpinned by expectations that the nominee to lead the Fed, Janet Yellen, would continue the bank's $85 billion in monthly bond purchases in that role. "I think markets have already priced in Yellen's nomination and the tapering being pushed to next year," said Songwut Apirakkhit, managing director of Globlex Holding Management in Bangkok. "As long as prices are still below $1,300, we think gold is in a bear market. We will change our view to neutral if the price goes above that level." Bullion has lost nearly 25 percent of its value so far this year on fears the gold-friendly bond purchases would be cut back as the U.S. economy improves. Last week, Yellen - who if confirmed by the Senate will take over from Fed chairman Ben Bernanke at the end of January - made plain she would press forward with the central bank's ultra-easy monetary policy until officials were confident a durable economic recovery was in place that could sustain job creation. But price gains after those comments have lost some momentum as charts show the metal is seeing resistance around $1,290 an ounce. "Technically, the gold price is likely to meet strong resistance once at $1,295 and (then) at $1,300," Phillip Futures said in a note. Hedge funds and other speculators pulled money out of gold for a third straight week to reduce bullish bets they had staked on U.S. commodities. The size of the reductions was the largest in such a period since March, data issued on Friday showed. Silver and palladium tracked gold lower, while platinum was supported by strikes in some South African mines. PRICES AT 0741 GMT Metal Last Change Pct chg YTD pct chg Spot gold 1286.96 -2.7 -0.21 -23.15 Spot silver 20.66 -0.1 -0.48 -31.77 Spot platinum 1433.6 -3.89 -0.27 -6.61 Spot palladium 726.22 -4.08 -0.56 4.95 Comex gold Dec3 1286.5 -0.9 -0.07 -23.23 Comex silver Dec3 20.66 -0.06 -0.3 -31.82 Euro 1.3497 DXY 80.777 COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months (Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Joseph Radford)

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