LONDON: Gold steadied on Monday after falling to two-week lows in the previous session on comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen that reinforced expectations of an increase to US interest rates this month.

Spot gold was down 0.2 per cent at $1,231.7 (Dh4,520.33) an ounce by 1243 GMT, after Friday’s slide to $1,222.51, the lowest since February 15. US gold futures were up 0.5 per cent at $1,232.50.

Yellen said last week that the Fed was poised to lift benchmark US interest rates provided that jobs and inflation data held up — comments seen as cementing plans for an increase at the March 14-15 meeting.

Higher US rates would boost the US currency and make dollar-priced commodities more expensive for holders of other currencies.

“Fed comments have become increasingly hawkish,” Societe Generale analyst Robin Bhar said, adding that the next set of US data to watch would be non-farm payrolls this week.

The US monthly jobs report on Friday includes the non-farm payrolls, seen rising by 190,000 in a Reuters poll.

“The US labour market is tight, inflation is picking up ... investment is revving up, consumer confidence readings are increasing and both housing and equity valuations are moving higher,” INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir said in the note. “All this should be enough to persuade the Fed to make a move should it want to get at least one of its three advertised rate hikes out of the way for this year.”

However, traders say that geopolitical tensions created by North Korea firing four ballistic missiles into the sea off Japan’s northwest coast were helping gold.

“European elections are also a source of uncertainty; gold will get support from that,” one trader said, adding that there was strong support for gold around $1,210, the 100-day moving average.

Physical gold holdings in exchange-traded funds have fallen since last week, partly because of the stronger dollar, but at 54.855 million ounces they are still more than 3 percent higher than at the start of February.

Elsewhere, spot silver fell 0.7 percent to $17.83 an ounce, platinum slipped by 0.9 percent to $985.1 and palladium ceded 0.3 percent to $768.65.