Gold snapped two days of gains as investors weighed mixed U.S. economic data against the potential for more stimulus measures from central banks around the world. Silver fell for the first time in three days.
Spot gold lost as much as 0.3 percent to $1,579.25 an ounce, and traded at $1,581.39 at 10:09 a.m. in Singapore, taking losses this year to 5.6 percent. Bullion also fell as the dollar rose for a second day against a six-currency basket.
Data yesterday showed U.S. companies hired more workers than expected, while orders to factories fell in January by the most in five months. The Federal Reserve said that the world’s largest economy is growing even as policy makers remain divided on the pace of stimulus. European Central Bank policy makers meet today after President Mario Draghi signaled last month the bank has no intention of tightening monetary policy anytime soon.
“As economic data in the U.S. continues to be uneven, the fate of the Federal Reserve’s easy monetary policy remains unclear,” said Sun Yonggang, a macroeconomic strategist at Everbright Futures Co., a unit of one of China’s largest state- owned investment companies. “Depending on the mood of the market, gold may trade with or against the dollar.”
The Dollar Index reached the highest level since August yesterday. Gold fell for a fifth month in February, the longest run of declines since 1997, amid speculation the Fed may rein in stimulus as the recovery gains traction. Assets in exchange- traded products holdings dropped to 2,491.503 metric tons on March 5, the lowest level since September.
Gold for April delivery advanced 0.3 percent to $1,580 an ounce on the Comex in New York after closing unchanged yesterday.
Cash bullion of 99.99 percent purity added 0.3 percent to 320.11 yuan a gram ($1,599.78 an ounce) on the Shanghai Gold Exchange. Daily volumes for the benchmark cash contract have been more than double the average in 2012 since Feb. 18, when it reached a record 22,024 kilograms, according to exchange data.
Cash silver declined as much as 0.5 percent to $28.89 an ounce, and was at $28.935. Spot platinum climbed 0.2 percent to $1,592.25 an ounce, and palladium slid 0.3 percent to $744.45 an ounce.
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