LONDON (Reuters) - Gold steadied above a two-month low on Friday after a five-day losing streak and was headed for its biggest weekly loss in five, hurt by strong U.S. economic data and speculation the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates sooner than expected.
Bullion has been hit hard after minutes from the Fed's July meeting on Wednesday showed policymakers debated whether interest rates should be raised earlier given a surprisingly strong job market recovery.
The metal came under further pressure on Thursday when a break below the 200-day moving average of $1,284 an ounce triggered stops losses -- automatic sale orders placed by traders at pre-set levels to limit losses -- and sent prices tumbling more than 1 percent.
Spot gold was up 0.1 percent at $1,278.35 an ounce by 1338 GMT, not far from a two-month low of $1,273.06 hit on Thursday. The metal is down almost 2 percent for the week, the biggest drop since the week ended July 18.
U.S. gold futures gained 0.3 percent to $1,278.90.
The dollar hovered below its 2014 peak against a basket of major currencies ahead of an eagerly awaited speech by U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen at the annual gathering of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Any further strengthening of the U.S. currency is likely to add pressure to gold by making the metal more expensive for holders of foreign currencies.
But a dovish speech from Yellen, who in July stressed that there was still significant slack in labour markets, would counter this week's Fed minutes.
Higher interest rates would dull the attractiveness of non-interest-bearing assets such as gold.
"The focus of Jackson Hole is the labour market and I think Yellen will stick to her usual (dovish) script," Natixis analyst Bernard Dahdah said.
"There is some speculation that if the data from the United States continues to surprise on the upside, the Fed will increase interest rates earlier than expected but we believe the hike will still be in mid-2015."
Data on Thursday showed U.S. home resales raced to a 10-month high in July, while the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell last week, signalling strength in the economy and reducing gold's appeal as an alternative investment.
Gold failed to gain support from escalating tensions over Ukraine that halted an earlier rise in European stocks.
"Although we had some escalation in the Russia-Ukraine tensions, the market today is rather focusing on the United States," Dahdah said.
Physical demand in major consumers China and India remained weak. Analysts, however, expected buying from India to increase heading into the festival and wedding season, when it is traditionally considered auspicious to buy gold.
"Lower gold prices are coming at an opportune time for the Indian market, which is on the cusp of its seasonally busy period," UBS said in a note.
Sinner thanks for that. I see the BG situation as a useful pointer to current attitudes towards foreign companies in Egypt and that may shed a little light on CEY's problems. I have been a long-term investor in BG and may add to my holding when funds allow.
Miningman, I do believe it affects BG positively. With a mounting list of priorities on the Egyptian government, this would not occur unless there was political and corporate pressure on Egyptian officials. I believe behind the scenes, BG would have been pushing for answers. And if the ministry of petroleum pulls this off, it will be good news indeed for BG - afterall Russia is in a tight position currently, it is probably the best of times to be negotiating with them.
On the other hand, I will not suggest the SP is going to react in the way it did in January [albeit the other way]. The reason being, that it was fear and uncertainty which drove it down then, especially with production revision. However, it has risen since with the perception that Egypt is becoming more stable and some of the fear has subsided already and the price has reflected that since. The new developments confirms this perception and in the long run it is good news for BG. Are you invested there already or looking to?
Sinner, sorry to be a bit O/T but do you happen to know if that will affect the BG situation. They had to invoke Force Majeure in January when Egypt diverted their gas production for the domestic market
The Ministry of Petroleum is currently negotiating on getting 10-12 liquefied gas freights from Russia and Algeria in a bid from the government to meet the citizens’ growing needs and achieve energy security, said Minister of Petroleum Sharif Ismail.
I think they’ve underestimated the importance of the completion of Stage 4 commissioning which will ramp up output for the next few months.
Davy are the brokers who have actually forecast the second lowest production for 2014 – our numbers show the majority of brokers forecasting 410-430koz which is obviously much closer, or in some cases higher, to the company’s guidance.
This sp will be a 'wish for' in a few weeks time imo...maybe a lot less! To have dropped so much in such a short space of time on the back of some innuendo is way oversold imo. CEY having started to give a dividend does not appear to have sunk in yet. Terrific potential here and I'm loading up on any weakness. The way its going ill soon have to make a declaration! Lol! ATB Rich
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