September 28, 2018 / 4:27 AM / 2 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold hits 6-wk trough; set for longest monthly losing streak in 2 decades

* Stronger U.S. economic data backs Fed’s rate rise view

* Palladium hit fresh eight-month high (Updates prices, adds quote)

By Vijaykumar Vedala

BENGALURU, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Gold hit a fresh six-week low on Friday as the dollar firmed after upbeat U.S. economic data supported the Federal Reserve’s resolve for steady interest rate hikes, putting the metal on track for its longest monthly losing streak since January 1997.

Gold was down about 1.6 percent in September, its sixth straight monthly loss.

Spot gold was flat at $1,182.48 as of 0736 GMT. The metal touched its lowest since Aug. 17 at $1,180.34 an ounce earlier in the session, dipping further from a six-week low of $1,181.61 hit on Thursday.

U.S. gold futures eased 0.1 percent at $1,186.20 an ounce.

The dollar gained against its peers on Friday as data showed U.S. economic growth accelerated in the second quarter at its fastest pace in nearly four years. Another report showed durable goods rose 4.5 percent in August, rebounding from a revised 1.2 percent drop the month before.

The short-term outlook is bearish for gold as the dollar may see some upside due to an ongoing trade war between China and the U.S. and the Federal Reserve interest rate hike outlook, according to Argonaut Securities analyst Helen Lau.

The Fed raised interest rates on Wednesday and said it planned four more increases by the end of 2019 and another in 2020.

“Robust U.S. economic fundamentals despite an escalation in trade tariffs have done little to lift demand for the non-interest bearing asset,” said Benjamin Lu, commodities analyst at Phillip Futures.

“The outlook for gold prices in the current term remains dim as such in lieu of rising rates and yields amidst buoyant U.S. economic conditions.”

Gold is down more than 13 percent from an April high, largely because of the stronger dollar, which has been boosted by a vibrant U.S. economy and fears of a global trade war. Investors have bought the greenback instead of gold as a safe investment.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s accusation of Chinese meddling in the upcoming U.S. elections marks a new phase in an escalating pressure campaign against Beijing that Washington is pursuing on multiple fronts, senior U.S. officials said on Thursday.

“The trade war continues to favour the U.S. dollar and this will generally dampen gold’s upside,” said Nicholas Frappell, global general manager, ABC Bullion, Australia.

“Large speculative shorts may help cushion weakness as punters keep an eye on levels to close out and take money off the table,” he said.

Among other metals, palladium touched a fresh eight-month high at $1,087.40 an ounce. Silver rose 0.7 percent to $14.30 an ounce and platinum was up 0.1 percent to $809.60. (Reporting by Vijaykumar Vedala in Bengaluru; Editing by Sunil Nair)

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