Prospect of further US Fed rate hikes drives gold down

London — Gold drifted lower on Thursday despite a weaker dollar as investors worried that US Federal Reserve minutes would highlight the prospect of further rate hikes.

Spot gold was down 0.3% at $1,252.15 an ounce by 9.40am GMT. The metal touched a one-week high of $1,261.10 in the prior session and had gained more than $20 from Tuesday’s low of $1,237.32, its weakest since December 12.

US gold futures for August delivery were little changed, up 0.03% at $1,253.80 an ounce.

The dollar index fell to its lowest level in more than a week while the euro climbed 0.5% to near three-week highs following strong German data. “Gold is not making huge headway even though we’re in a slightly weaker dollar environment. The market is very much in a wait-and-see mode ahead of the Fed minutes,” said Jonathan Butler, commodities analyst at Mitsubishi in London.

The minutes of the US central bank’s June meeting are scheduled to be published at 2pm EDT (6pm GMT). During the discussion, the Fed had projected two more rate hikes in 2018 for a total of four. The minutes may point to concerns about inflation or that members want monetary policy to keep pace with fairly strong economic growth, Butler said.

“Those sorts of sentiments when they come out could weigh on gold and could give the dollar somewhat of a boost.”

Gold is highly sensitive to rising interest rates, as these increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which the metal is priced.

Investors are also awaiting the US ADP labour market report on Thursday and nonfarm payrolls and unemployment data on Friday. “One would not like to have any bullish bets on gold when the labour market trend is strong,” ThinkMarkets chief market analyst Naeem Aslam said.

Spot gold may retrace to support at $1,248 per ounce as it has failed to break resistance at $1,258, Reuters technicals analyst Wang Tao said. Among other precious metals, silver shed 0.8% to $15.92 an ounce. Palladium dipped 0.1% to $945 an ounce, while platinum edged up 0.1% at $840.50 an ounce.