December 17, 2018 / 1:26 AM / a month ago

PRECIOUS-Gold prices edge down as firm dollar weighs

BENGALURU, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Gold prices inched down on Monday ahead of a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting this week, pressured by a robust dollar as investors outside the United States sought the safety of the greenback amid global growth concerns.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Spot gold had slipped 0.2 percent to $1,236.30 per ounce by 0107 GMT. Prices on Friday hit their lowest since Dec. 4 at $1,232.39.

* U.S. gold futures were down 0.1 percent at $1,239.3 per ounce.

* The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was steady at 97.445, having climbed to a 19-month high on Friday.

* Asian share markets started the week on a cautious footing on Monday after weak economic data from China and Europe added to evidence of cooling global growth and reinforced anxiety over the impact of international trade frictions on business and profits.

* U.S. consumer spending gathered momentum in November as households bought furniture, electronics and a range of other goods, which could further allay fears of a significant slowdown in the American economy even as the outlook overseas continued to darken.

* Markets are awaiting the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting on Dec. 18-19, at which the U.S. central bank is widely expected to raise interest rates. However, the focus will be on the outlook for 2019.

* European Central Bank President Mario Draghi told European Union leaders growth was weaker than previously forecast and urged them to go forward with reforms of the euro zone, one official told Reuters.

* Britain’s government is not preparing for a second referendum on Brexit, ministers said on Sunday, sticking to the script that Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal could still pass through parliament with a few changes.

* Hedge funds and money managers switched to a net long position in Comex gold in the week to Dec. 11, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Friday.

* Demand for physical gold was lacklustre in major Asian hubs last week as high prices dented bullion’s appeal going into the holiday season, with buying interest in second biggest consumer India likely to be subdued for the rest of the year.

* India’s November gold imports were down 15.59 percent at $2.76 billion, according to the country’s trade ministry. (Reporting by Karthika Suresh Namboothiri in Bengaluru Editing by Joseph Radford)

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