Gold prices pinned near 2½-month low as investors await Fed meeting

Gold prices pinned near 2½-month low as investors await Fed meeting
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(May 3): Gold prices dropped on Tuesday towards their lowest since mid-February, as an elevated dollar and an imminent interest rate hike by the US Federal Reserve dampened bullion's appeal as an inflation hedge.

Spot gold was down 0.3% at US$1,858.10 per ounce, as of 0510 GMT. Bullion fell more than 2% on Monday to its lowest since Feb 16, as the dollar and yields strengthened on increased prospects for faster rate hikes by the US central bank.

US gold futures were also down 0.3% at US$1,857.20.    

There are short-term downside risks for gold and we've got a target range of US$1,810 to US$1,790, with pressure coming from higher interest rates and the dollar, said Michael McCarthy, chief strategy officer at Tiger Brokers, Australia.

The dollar remained near 20-year highs, making greenback-priced gold less attractive for overseas buyers, while benchmark 10-year Treasury yields on Monday hit 3% for the first time since December 2018, a key psychological milestone.

The US central bank's Federal Open Market Committee will begin its meeting on interest rates later in the day and is expected to hike borrowing costs by half-a-percentage point when it announces its decision on Wednesday.

The Fed raised its policy interest rate by 25 basis points in March, and is soon likely to start trimming its asset holdings, as it attempts to tighten pandemic-era monetary policy and rein in soaring inflation.

Higher short-term US interest rates and bond yields tend to increase the opportunity cost of holding zero-yield bullion.

The European Union was preparing sanctions on Russian oil sales over its invasion of Ukraine after a major shift on Monday by Germany, Russia's biggest energy customer.

Bullion is seen as a safe store of value during times of economic and political crises.

Spot silver dipped 0.5% to US$22.52 per ounce, platinum eased 0.1% to US$934.94, and palladium advanced 0.8% to US$2,234.12.