September 10, 2018 / 7:03 AM / 2 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold falls further as rate hike views, trade war worries buoy dollar

* SPDR Gold holdings down 4 mln ounces since late April

* Speculators raise bearish bets on gold to record highs

* Palladium eases from 11-week highs hit on Friday (Updates prices)

By Sethuraman N R

BENGALURU, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Gold fell for a second straight session on Monday as expectations of an interest rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve in September and fears of an escalation in U.S.-China trade tensions kept the dollar firm.

Spot gold was down 0.2 percent at $1,193.15 as of 0655 GMT, having declined 0.4 percent in the previous session.

U.S. gold futures fell 0.2 percent to $1,198.60 an ounce.

“The strong U.S. nonfarm payrolls led to some modest downward pressure on gold ... Going forward though, the U.S dollar will continue to weigh on gold, and as long as the dollar is strong, gold will remain constrained,” said John Sharma, an economist at National Australia Bank.

Stronger-than-expected U.S. payrolls data on Friday cemented expectations that the U.S. Fed will raise interest rates in September, in what would be its third hike this year.

The dollar firmed against a basket of major currencies on Monday thanks to the jobs data and after U.S. President Donald Trump warned tariffs on a further $267 billion worth of Chinese imports, on top of earlier promises to levy duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

“It appears that the U.S. will be able to weather the impact of the trade war for the time being, but the question is how long. With the imposition of tariffs, U.S. exports will be negatively impacted as well,” Sharma said.

Gold has fallen over 8 percent this year as concerns over trade disputes, currency weakness in emerging markets and rising U.S. interest rates have strengthened the dollar, making bullion more expensive for buyers with other currencies.

“The markets continue to look for that golden lining. But the primary issue is (safe) haven demand remains fleeting in the presence of the stronger dollar narrative,” said Stephen Innes, Asia-Pacific trading head at OANDA.

Investors increased their bearish stances in COMEX gold and silver contracts to the biggest on record in the holiday-shortened week to Sept. 4, data showed.

Holdings of gold by exchange traded funds have fallen over 4 million ounces since touching a peak in late April.

While gold bulls are buying whenever there is a pull back to the low $1,190s, the general malaise for commodities, coupled with the stronger dollar, suggest sellers are emerging on the rallies, Innes said.

Spot gold may revisit its Sept. 4 low of $1,189.20 per ounce, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Among other precious metals, spot silver was up 0.1 percent at $14.12.

Platinum rose 0.1 percent to $779.50, while palladium fell 0.8 percent to $972.97, after hitting over 11-week highs on Friday at $990. (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin and Subhranshu Sahu)

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