By Barani Krishnan
Investing.com - As expected, gold has been done in by the Fed.
March meeting minutes from the Federal Reserve suggesting the central bank has still not completely ruled out raising interest rates this year sent bullion, as well as futures, hurtling beneath the key $1,300 level Thursday. That level is critical to the confidence of those holding long positions on the yellow metal.
Spot gold, reflective of trades in bullion, was down $16.67, or 1.3%, at $1,291.41 an ounce by 2:20 PM ET (18:20 GMT).
Gold futures for June delivery, traded on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, settled the official session down $20.60, or 1.6%, at $1,293.30 per ounce.
Spot gold hit a two-week high of $1,310.65 on Wednesday, ahead of the release of the Fed minutes, when the market speculated on the possibility of the central bank easing rates to placate President Donald Trump, who's complained that U.S. growth is slower now because of the four Fed hikes in 2018.
To be fair to the Fed, a majority of members at its March meeting said they preferred keeping rates on hold through 2019. That left little room for the possibility of a hike, which would be bearish for gold.
But with few other factors at play on Thursday, that was enough to spark profit-taking by funds that had chased the market to above $1,300 the past week on talk of easing not just by the Fed, but also other global central banks. Easier monetary policy is bullish for gold's stance as an inflation buffer and safe haven.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi raised the prospect of more support for the struggling eurozone economy on Wednesday if its slowdown persisted, keeping its ultra-easy monetary policy unchanged.
“One of the reasons we are trading around $1,300 levels is the dovish stance of central banks,” OANDA senior market analyst Craig Erlam told Reuters.
The dollar, a contrarian trade to gold, steadied on hotter-than-expected inflation data and smaller jobless claims numbers. The dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a basket of six major currencies, was up 0.2% to 96.778 after a two-week low on Wednesday at 96.453.
Palladium fell for a second-straight day but managed to remain the world's priciest traded metal.
Spot palladium was down $28.90, or 2.1%, at $1,361.15 an ounce. The silvery-white auto-catalyst metal, used for purifying gasoline emissions, traded some $300 above gold early last month before cutting that premium to less than $100 lately.
Trades in other Comex metals as of 2:20 PM ET (18:20 GMT):
Palladium futures down $24.95, or 1.8%, at $1,338.25 per ounce.
Platinum futures down $13.60, or 1.5%, at $895.30 per ounce.
Silver futures down 34 cents, or 2.2%, at $14.90 per ounce.
Copper futures down 4 cents, or 1.3%, at $2.89 per pound.