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Gold settles lower, then struggles for direction after Fed statement

MarketWatch logo MarketWatch 6 days ago Myra P. Saefong

Gold prices suffered a fourth loss in five sessions on Thursday, then struggled for direction in electronic trading with the U.S. dollar extending earlier gains as the latest policy update from the Federal Reserve yielded no surprises.

The U.S. central bank held interest rates steady, in a 2% to 2.25% range and signaled that it will stay the course and move rates up at a gradual pace in coming months.

In electronic trading, December gold was at $1,224.90 an ounce, seesawing between modest gains and losses shortly after the Fed statement. The contract had settled at $1,225.10, down $3.60, or 0.3%, for the session. It gained 0.2% Wednesday and trades roughly 0.7% lower for the week.

December silver fell 14.6 cents, or 1%, to settle at $14.423 an ounce, and has fallen about 2.3% for the week to date.

“As universally anticipated, the Fed left rates on hold today and there was nothing in the policy statement to suggest that officials are wavering from their plans to hike interest rates again in December,” said Michael Pearce, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, in a note.

The ICE U.S. Dollar Index a measure of the U.S. currency against six major rivals, extended earlier gains to trade near session highs after the Fed statement. The gauge has climbed about 4.8% year to date, boosted by a tightening Federal Reserve. Higher interest rates can boost the dollar and dull demand for dollar-denominated commodities.

Gold futures rose on Wednesday, buoyed briefly by a weaker dollar and lower bond yields in the wake of midterm elections that left the U.S. with a divided Congress. Split power across the chambers is expected to complicate further government stimulus efforts, including additional tax cuts.

In other metals trade, January platinum fell 1% to $870.30 an ounce, while December palladium fell 0.4% to $1,116.10 an ounce. December copper declined by 0.7% at $2.736 a pound.

Among exchange-traded funds, SPDR Gold Shares shed 0.2%.

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