Gold falls after Fed gives upbeat view of U.S. outlook

Reuters

By Jan Harvey

LONDON (Reuters) - Gold fell on Thursday, a day after the Federal Reserve announced a further cut to its extraordinary stimulus measures and reiterated its confidence in the U.S. economic outlook, despite a weak reading of first-quarter growth.

Outflows resumed from bullion-backed exchange-traded funds, suggesting investor confidence in the metal remains soft.

Optimism over the health of the U.S. economy suggests the Fed will keep paring back its monetary easing programme, relieving downward pressure on long-term interest rates and taking the heat out of inflation fears.

Spot gold was down 0.7 percent at $1,283.20 an ounce at 0943 GMT, while U.S. gold futures for June delivery were down $12.40 an ounce at $1,283.50. The metal has found support at its 100-day moving average at $1,282, dealers said.

Prices fell despite Wednesday's soft reading of first-quarter U.S. growth, which showed the severe winter hampered exports and led businesses to curtail investment spending.

"The Fed has looked completely though this Q1 GDP number and has said, 'the economy's still improving, we're going to carry on tapering'," Natixis analyst Nic Brown said.

"We're probably at that part of the (economic) cycle when investors are more interested in exciting growth opportunities than worrying about the next fiscal crisis," he added. "So for us, there's no compelling reason why gold or silver prices should be pushing higher this year."

The dollar steadied on Thursday after dropping sharply in the previous session on the back of the weak growth data. Gold tends to move in the opposite direction to the unit, but failed to find support from its weakness on Wednesday as the impact of currency moves was outweighed by the Fed's comments. [FRX/]

Holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 4.19 tonnes to 787.95 tonnes on Wednesday - its biggest outflow since April 16 and the first change in its holdings since April 21. [GOL/ETF]

SLUGGISH INTEREST

Top buyer China has seen sluggish interest since the end of January. Consumers and importing banks have been buying less since the Chinese New Year break due to a weaker yuan.

Chinese prices were at a discount to global benchmarks for most of March, but have now recovered to trade about par.

Demand could pick up in second-biggest consumer, India, which celebrates Akshaya Tritiya on Friday, a traditional time to buy gold.

U.S. gold coin sales in April recovered from a seven-month low in March as retail buying picked up, while early interest in newly launched platinum coins slackened after a burst of initial buying in their first month.

However, they were sharply lower year on year, after April 2013's sales surged on the back of a sharp drop in prices.

Among other precious metals, silver was down 0.1 percent at $19.05 an ounce.

The gold/silver ratio, which measures the number of silver ounces needed to buy an ounce of gold, hit its highest since August 2010 on Wednesday, putting silver at its cheapest versus gold in more than 3-1/2 years.

"Silver is expected to underperform gold as the yellow metal attracts demand from safety-seeking investors," Barclays said in a note on Thursday. "Downside risk for silver (is) toward $18.85, then $18.20."

Spot platinum was down 0.4 percent at $1,415.74 an ounce, while spot palladium was down 0.9 percent at $814.50 an ounce.

(Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; editing by Keiron Henderson)

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