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Gold futures dip ahead of Yellen's speech at San Francisco Fed

CommoditiesMar 27, 2015 01:13PM ET
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Gold futures fell below 1,200 an ounce on Friday -- Gold futures retreated on Friday afternoon amid a wavering dollar, as traders awaited comments from Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen later in the session.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for April delivery fell 5.80% or 0.48% to $1,199 a troy ounce. The decline came one day after gold reached a three-week high at $1,205.10, capping a rally precipitated by relatively dovish comments from Ms. Yellen on Mar. 18.

Gold prices started trending downward on Mar. 6, after the release of a promising U.S. jobs report fueled speculation that the Fed could raise interest rates sooner than expected. Prices then dipped to a four-month low last week at 1,148.20 ahead of the Fed's decision to remove its stance of remaining patient on the timing of a potential rate hike.

Though Ms. Yellen's initial comments appeared hawkish, the Fed's revised forecasts regarding slower long-term increases for inflation, interest rates and GDP signaled that the U.S. central bank could wait until September before increasing interest rates. Gold struggles to compete with high yield bearing assets in periods of rising interest rates.

While the timing of an initial rate hike has been widely anticipated, many analysts are paying closer attention to the frequency and duration of the Fed's plan to tighten monetary policy. Earlier this week, Fed vice chairman Stanley Fischer said a "smooth path upward will almost certainly not be realized," a position that runs contrary to Fed policy decisions in 2004 and 2007.

Ms. Yellen has not provided any indication on whether she will discuss the Fed's long-term outlook for tightening during her speech at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Conference on Friday afternoon. Ms. Yellen is scheduled to deliver the speech entitled "The New Normal for Monetary Policy," 15 minutes before U.S. equities markets close on the East Coast.

Meanwhile, disappointing economic data from the U.S. Commerce Department on Friday pared earlier gains from the dollar. On Friday morning, the Commerce Department said in a report that GDP for the fourth quarter expanded at a seasonally-adjusted rate of 2.2%. Economists had forecasted an upward revision of 2.4%.

On a year-over-year basis, economic output for the fourth quarter increased by 2.4% from the same period a year earlier. By comparison, U.S. GDP grew by 2.7% for the third quarter versus the same quarter during the prior year.

EUR/USD rose to 1.091 in U.S. afternoon trading, up from Friday's low of 1.0802. The U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the strength of the greenback vs. a basket of six other major currencies, fell 0.18 to 97.35.

Dollar-denominated commodities such as gold become less expensive for foreign purchasers in periods of a weaker dollar.

Elsewhere, silver futures for May delivery fell slightly by 0.48% or 0.083 to 17.057 a troy ounce.

Copper futures for May delivery dropped 1.52% or 0.043 to 2.768 a pound. Earlier this week, copper reached a three-month high at 2.945.

Palladium futures for June delivery fell to a five-month low, plunging 31.55 or 4.08% to 741.50.

Gold futures dip ahead of Yellen's speech at San Francisco Fed

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