London: Gold inched lower on Thursday and was headed for its biggest weekly loss in 2018 as the dollar was boosted by minutes from the last US Federal Reserve meeting that showed policymakers backed further rises in interest rates.
Spot gold slipped 0.1 per cent to $1,322.06 per ounce by 1054 GMT, and was down 1.8 per cent so far this week. The yellow metal was in the red for a fifth straight session and earlier touched is lowest since February 14 at $1,320.61.
US gold futures were down 0.5 per cent at $1,325.30 per ounce.
Gold is highly exposed to interest rates, particularly in the United States, as rate rises lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding assets and boost the dollar, in which gold is priced.
“The general tone of the FOMC minutes was hawkish and convinced about the strength of the US economy and that the inflation target will be reached,” said Carsten Fritsch, a commodity analyst at Commerzbank.
“This was seen as a further sign that Fed is willing to increase interest rates further and more than expected.”
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of major currencies, was up 0.1 per cent at 90.045, after it touched 90.235, the highest since February 12.
The greenback, which has risen over a per cent so far this week, got a boost after minutes of the Fed’s January meeting showed most policymakers believed inflation would perk up.
However, some analysts said concerns about rising inflation may be tempered by caution due to the recent market volatility.
The opposing forces of higher inflation, which is good for the bullion, and higher interest rates should neutralise each other and keep gold price pretty steady, analysts said.
“Gold is precariously holding a trend-line from December 2017 lows at present, so we expect some support around here, especially with China back,” said MKS senior precious metals trader Alex Thorndike.
A break of the $1,322-25 area however, could see gold test the 50-day moving average of $1,319.25 then the 100-day moving of $1,298.50 if dollar strength persists, he said.
Among other precious metals, silver was steady at $16.50 an ounce, while palladium was down 0.4 per cent at $1,024 per ounce and platinum 0.3 per cent weaker at $984.50, its lowest since February 14.