October 4, 2018 / 1:34 AM / 2 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold hovers in narrow range as dollar rises on upbeat U.S. data

BENGALURU, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Gold prices moved in a narrow range on Thursday after losses in the previous session, with robust U.S. economic data and hawkish comments from Federal Reserve policymakers boosting the dollar.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Spot gold was up 0.1 percent at $1,198.16 an ounce at 0103 GMT, after falling about 0.5 percent in the previous session.

* U.S. gold futures were down 0.1 percent at $1,202.1 an ounce.

* The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was up 0.3 percent, after climbing to a six-week peak of 96.116 overnight.

* U.S. services sector activity raced to a 21-year high in September and companies boosted hiring, signs of enduring strength in the economy at the end of the third quarter. The upbeat reports on Wednesday likely keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates again in December.

* The Fed may raise interest rates above an estimated “neutral” setting as the “remarkably positive” U.S. economy continues to grow, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said on Wednesday.

* Fed policymakers continue to signal that gradual U.S. interest rate hikes will be enough to tame inflation despite a fast-growing economy, even as a jump in longer-term borrowing costs suggests investors may be increasingly nervous about that rosy scenario.

* The Trump administration on Wednesday pulled out of two international agreements after Iran and the Palestinians complained to the International Court of Justice about U.S. policies, the latest withdrawal by Washington from multilateral accords.

* Italy will cut its budget deficit targets from 2020 and reduce its debt over the next three years, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Wednesday, easing fears about fiscal policy in the euro zone’s third-biggest economy.

* The euro will withstand the latest political turmoil in Italy and any short-term spill will be limited, but it may be another six months before the dominant dollar trade is swept aside, according to a Reuters poll of currency strategists.

* British Prime Minister Theresa May appealed to her Conservative Party on Wednesday to unite behind her plan to leave the European Union, warning critics their arguments could put Brexit in jeopardy.

* Holdings in SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.84 percent to 23,522,860.09 ounces on Wednesday, the lowest since February 2016.

* India’s gold imports may rise in the fourth quarter as investors seek alternatives to faltering equity markets and a plunging rupee at the same time traditional buying will climb during the festival season, said multiple sources involved in the market.

DATA/EVENT AHEAD (GMT) 0600 International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine

Lagarde holds news conference in Tokyo 1230 U.S. Weekly jobless claims 1400 U.S. Factory orders Aug (Reporting by Sumita Layek in Bengaluru)

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