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Gold gains as US dollar, yields slip after softer economic data

By Anushree Ashish Mukherjee, Reuters

Gold prices gained on Thursday after softer U.S. economic data pushed the U.S. dollar and Treasury yields lower, while market focus shifted to commentary from Federal Reserve officials for cues on the timeline for interest rate cut.

Spot gold was up 0.6% at $2,004.05 per ounce, as of 01:57 p.m. ET (1857 GMT).

U.S. gold futures settled 0.5% higher to $2,014.9.

“Gold bulls seized on a surprisingly soft retail sales number to surge back above $2000," said Tai Wong, a New York-based independent metals analyst.

U.S. retail sales fell more than expected in January. A separate report from the Labor Department showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 212,000.

The dollar index extended losses and benchmark 10-year Treasury yield slipped after the data, making non-yielding bullion more appealing for overseas buyers.

The main driver for gold in the short term is interest rate expectations - there is risk that gold is going to remain under pressure in the short term until the Fed actually says it is time to cut rates, according to Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at EverBank.

Data on Tuesday showed an unexpected spike in U.S. consumer prices, which caused bullion to fall 1.4% on Tuesday.

Fed policymakers will probably wait until June before cutting rates, traders bet after the inflation data. Higher interest rates increase the opportunity cost of holding bullion.

Fed Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr on Wednesday said the path back to 2% inflation "may be a bumpy one". Meanwhile, Chicago Fed President Austan Goolsbee cautioned against delaying rate cuts for too long.

The focus is now on the producer price index numbers, due on Friday. At least three more Fed officials are scheduled to speak later this week.

Palladium gained 1.9% to $952.49 an ounce. It surged over 8% on Wednesday on short-covering, reclaiming its premium over platinum.

Spot platinum climbed 0.9% to $897.36 and silver rose 2.4% to $22.91.



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