Early Fed rate hike bets hold back gold as virus woes weigh

Gold was flat in early Asian trade on Wednesday, as traders weighed prospects of early interest rate increases by the U.S. Federal Reserve against surging COVID-19 infections globally.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Spot gold was little changed at $1,813.91 per ounce by 0133 GMT. U.S. gold futures were flat at $1,813.80.

* Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields rose to their highest in more than a month on Tuesday as investors were all set for the Fed rate hikes by mid-year to curb stubbornly high inflation.

* Higher yields raise the opportunity cost of holding non-interest paying gold.

* Futures on the federal funds rate on Tuesday priced in a roughly 66% chance of a quarter percentage-point tightening by March, with investors fully pricing that scenario by May.

* Making gold less appealing for other currency holders, the U.S. dollar index hovered near a two-week high touched on Monday, tracking gains in U.S. Treasury yields.

* The United States set a global record of reporting almost 1 million new coronavirus infections on Monday, according to a Reuters tally.

* Wall Street’s optimistic start to the New Year continued on Tuesday as prices for some stocks, oil and the dollar advanced, but investors dialled back risk-taking elsewhere as data showed U.S. manufacturing slowed and COVID-19 spread.

* Spot silver shed 0.1% to $23.01 an ounce, platinum remained unchanged at $971.21, and palladium rose 0.1% to $1,872.63.

DATA/EVENTS (GMT, Dec) 0850 France Markit Serv, Comp PMIs 0855 Germany Markit Services PMI 0855 Germany Markit Comp Final PMI 0900 EU Markit Serv, Comp Final PMIs 1445 US Markit Serv, Comp Final PMIs 1900 US Federal Open Market Committee will release the minutes from its Dec. 14 – 15 policy meeting

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