By Melanie Burton
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Spot gold steadied on Tuesday after falling for three days, but looked at risk of further weakness as the dollar edged up on comments by a Federal Reserve official that the next U.S. rate rise could come as soon as next month.
The United States may be in line for an interest rate hike as soon as April, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said on Monday, another sign that policymakers are comfortable allowing U.S. monetary policy to diverge from other major economies.
Prospects for higher interest rates were already helping the dollar revive from five-months lows touched last week. A stronger dollar makes gold more expensive for investors paying with other currencies.
“There’s a little bit of fatigue in there as well with the strong rally we’ve seen in the past few weeks, so it feels like a bit of profit taking going on sparked by the Fed comments,” said strategist Daniel Hynes of ANZ in Sydney.
Spot gold was trading up 0.1 percent at $1,244.90 an ounce by 0138 GMT. Prices hit the weakest in three sessions at $1,240.30 an ounce on Monday.
U.S. gold was up 0.1 percent at $1,244.80 an ounce.
U.S. home resales fell sharply in February in a potentially troubling sign for America’s economy, which has otherwise looked resilient to the global economic slowdown.
Mali has upgraded its estimated below-ground gold reserves by a third to 800 tonnes, enough to maintain current levels of output for the next 15 years, said the West African nation’s mines minister.
Asian stocks wobbled on Tuesday as the hawkish comments from Fed officials stoked uncertainty about policymakers’ intentions less than a week after Fed Chair Janet Yellen had set out a more cautious path to rate increases this year.
China imported 180,131 kilograms of silver in February, down by 7.4 percent from the same month a year ago, after a jump in imports in January. For the first two months of the year, China’s silver imports jumped 24 percent to 509,085 kgs from a year earlier.
Palladium imports tripled in February to 3,157 kgs, while platinum imports rose by 27 percent to 3,622 kgs.
Platinum at $974.74 an ounce was down half a percent while palladium held 0.3 percent firmer at $598.50.
Silver had edged down by 0.1 percent at $15.811 an ounce.
(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Joseph Radford and Richard Pullin)