Gold set for biggest weekly fall in six as rate cut optimism dulls

By Anushree Ashish Mukherjee

(Reuters) – Gold firmed on Friday but was poised to record its biggest weekly decline in six, as comments from Federal Reserve policymakers through the week lowered expectations of an early rate cut.

Spot gold rose 0.2% to $2,027.49 per ounce by 02:02 p.m. ET (1902 GMT), but was down 1% so far in the week.

U.S. gold futures settled 0.4% higher at $2029.3.

The dollar index dipped 0.2% but was up 1% for the week. A stronger dollar makes greenback-priced gold more expensive for foreign currency holders. [USD/]

Over the week, the markets have been speculating about the Federal Reserve’s timing for rate cuts that has reflected in gold prices, said Bart Melek, head of commodity strategies at TD Securities.

Chicago Fed President Austan Goolsbee said on Friday that the Fed needs more inflation data in hand before any rate cut judgment could be made. Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic on Thursday said the baseline for cuts to start was in the third quarter.

Traders now expect about a 47% chance of a rate cut in March, down from 71% last week, according to CME’s Fed Watch Tool.

“Until the first cut is delivered, the market may at times run ahead of itself, in the process building up rate cut expectations to levels that leave prices vulnerable to a correction,” said Ole Hansen, Saxo Bank’s head of commodity strategy.

Lower interest rates decrease the opportunity cost of holding bullion.

On the physical side, gold buying in India was lacklustre this week as a correction in local prices failed to attract consumers. [GO/AS]

Spot silver fell 0.8% to $22.57 per ounce, but was down about 2.5% for the week so far.

Spot platinum lost 1.3% to $895.02, and palladium was up 0.2% at $940.22.

(Reporting by Anushree Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Tasim Zahid, Shweta Agarwal and Shailesh Kuber)