PRECIOUS-Gold eases on strong U.S. data, Fed minutes in focus

BY Reuters | ECONOMIC | 11/24/21 10:03 AM EST

(Adds comment and updates prices)

* Initial jobless claims drop to 52-yr low

* FOMC to release minutes of Nov. 2-3 policy meeting

* U.S. dollar at highest since July 10, 2020

By Asha Sistla

Nov 24 (Reuters) - Gold prices slipped on Wednesday as robust U.S. economic data lifted the dollar and Treasury yields, while investors awaited the minutes of the Federal Reserve's November meeting for clues on the pace of stimulus tapering.

Spot gold fell 0.2% to $1,785.88 per ounce by 12:31 p.m. ET (1731 GMT), while U.S. gold futures rose 0.2% at $1,787.00.

Gold slid below the key $1,800 mark earlier this week as the re-nomination of Fed Chair Jerome Powell bolstered bets of faster monetary policy tightening, boosting the dollar and in turn making bullion more expensive for overseas buyers.

The gold market is being pressured by concerns the Fed may begin to ramp up its tapering or bring rate hikes at a more rapid pace than previously anticipated, said David Meger, director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures.

Higher interest rates increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

Minutes of the Fed's Nov. 2-3 meeting are due later in the day.

Gold investors also seem to be discounting for the possibility of moderating inflation, given the recent retreat in energy prices, ED&F Man Capital Markets analyst Edward Meir said.

Piling pressure were U.S. initial jobless claims falling to their lowest since 1969 and a separate report showing economic growth increased at a 2.1% annualized rate.

San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly said she would be open to accelerating the pace of asset purchase tapering if inflation remained elevated and jobs growth stayed strong.

With inflows into gold-backed ETFs also subdued, short acquisitions by "trend followers" remain the primary contributor to flows, suggesting further downside to prices, TD Securities said in a note.

Analysts said thinner volumes heading into the Thanksgiving holiday could contribute to bigger price swings. Spot platinum rose 0.3% to $971.92 per ounce, while palladium dipped 0.9% to $1,850.46. Silver fell 0.9% to $23.42. (Reporting by Asha Sistla and additional reporting by Ashitha Shivaprasad in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni, Amy Caren Daniel and Ramakrishnan M.)

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