U.S. Markets open in 5 hrs 26 mins

Gold hits 1-month high as weaker dollar lifts commodities

Gold bars are seen in the Austrian Gold and Silver Separating Plant 'Oegussa' in Vienna, Austria, December 15, 2017. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

By Jan Harvey

LONDON (Reuters) - Gold hit a one-month high on Thursday, rallying for a ninth straight session as a retreat in the dollar on the back of lower U.S. bond yields drove gains in commodities priced in the currency.

The metal is also benefiting from technically driven momentum after closing above its 100-day moving average on Wednesday for the first time since late November, analysts said.

Spot gold was up 0.5 percent at $1,293.73 an ounce at 1450 GMT, having earlier touched its highest since Nov. 29 at $1,294.95 an ounce. U.S. gold futures for February delivery were up $4.80 an ounce at $1,296.20.

"The weakness in the dollar is playing its part," Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at ThinkMarkets, said. "We do think that this trend will continue into 2018. We expect the gold price to finish the year above $1,300 mark, and that would send a strong buy signal for traders."

The dollar held near a one-month low versus a currency basket on Thursday as the latest jobless claims data suggesting a firm labour market was offset by advance trade balance figures that pointed to a widening trade gap in November.

That helped drive gains across commodities, with benchmark Brent crude oil futures near their highest since mid 2015, and copper at a four-year peak.

The dollar index is down more than 9 percent so far this year, and is on course for its biggest annual loss since 2003.

A weakening dollar has helped lift gold nearly 5 percent from the near five-month low of $1,235.92 it hit in mid-December. Its rise has picked up further momentum in the last week from positive technical factors, analysts said.

"(The rally) has seen gold march up and close at the 100-day moving average in yet another positive technical development," currency broker OANDA said in a note.

"With the Relative Strength Index (RSI) still at neutral levels, the technical picture suggests there is still potential topside in this rally."

Elsewhere, net gold imports to major consumer China via main conduit Hong Kong fell 23.6 percent in November from the previous month, data showed on Thursday.

Among other precious metals, silver was 0.7 percent higher at $16.80 an ounce after earlier hitting its highest since late November at $16.82. Holdings of silver exchange-traded funds tracked by Reuters ticked up to their highest since early September, with Thursday's data showing a 62-tonne inflow.

Platinum was up 0.9 percent at $925 an ounce. Palladium was down 0.1 percent at $1,059.74 an ounce, having touched its highest since February 2001 at $1,069.50 on Wednesday.

(Additional reporting by Apeksha Nair and Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by David Evans and Mark Potter)