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Gold prices ease on outlook for US rate hikes

Gold prices inched down on Tuesday amid expectations for more U.S. interest rate hikes this year.

Spot gold was down 0.1 percent at $1,319 an ounce by 0314 GMT, after falling as far as $1,315.40 early in the session.

Last week, prices touched their highest since Sept. 15 at $1,325.86.

U.S. gold futures were mostly unchanged at $1,320 an ounce

The dollar hit a more than one-week high against a basket of other major currencies on Monday, pressuring gold. But, the greenback fell to a session low of 112.49 yen on Tuesday after the Bank of Japan trimmed the amount of its buying of Japanese government bonds.

Investors are betting on further U.S. interest rate hikes after Friday’s payrolls data did nothing to challenge the outlook for monetary policy tightening by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic, who is a voting member of the central bank’s policy board, said on Monday that two hikes might be needed in 2018, in light of weak price pressures.

“Gold will be under pressure (in the short term) as the dollar will strengthen on U.S. tax reforms and rate hike expectations,” said Ji Ming, chief analyst at Shandong Gold Group.

“However, the market will get used to the rate hike expectations soon and the dollar will lose its strength, pushing gold higher,” Ming added.

“We can expect prices to go past 2017 highs in the second half of 2018.”

Gold is highly sensitive to rising U.S. interest rates, as these increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.

Spot gold may test resistance at $1,329 per ounce, as suggested by a Fibonacci retracement analysis and a triangle, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

“Support for gold is at $1,311.40. Moving average convergence divergence and momentum indicators are biased to the upside and we remain bullish on gold,” ScotiaMocatta analysts said in a note.

Among other precious metals, spot silver fell 0.4 percent to $17.11 an ounce.

Platinum dropped 0.9 percent to $963.70, after hitting 3-1/2 month peak on Monday at $973.60.

Palladium was down 0.2 percent at $1,098.10 an ounce.