Gold prices held steady on Monday, with investors looking ahead to a clutch of speeches from U.S. Federal Reserve officials later in the week for clues on the timing of possible interest rate hikes.     

Spot gold had inched down 0.1 percent to $1,233.61 per ounce by 0538 GMT, while U.S. gold futures fell 0.4 percent to $1,234.8.    

“We expect muted trading to start the week in Asia with a U.S. holiday today, although a break in gold of $1,231 may flush away some nervous long positions,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.    

Bullion may break support at $1,233 per ounce, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.                 

U.S. markets are closed on Monday for the Presidents Day holiday.           

At least five Fed officials are due to speak this week, while Fed Board Governor Jerome Powell appears on Wednesday.    

Cleveland Fed chief Loretta Mester said on Monday she would be comfortable raising interest rates at this point if the economy kept performing the way it did.

Speculation the central bank could hike as soon as March has generally underpinned the greenback. The dollar was mostly unchanged against a basket of currencies at 100.92. 

Bullion is highly-sensitive to rising U.S. interest rates, as these increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.    

“On the fundamental side, although a stronger dollar and buoyant U.S. equities could potentially act as a drag on gold, other variables will likely prevent a more significant selloff,” said INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir.    

Concern over U.S. President Donald Trump‘s policies, as well as elections in Europe, fueled gold’s rise to a peak of $1,244.67 on Feb. 8, the strongest in nearly three months.     

The metal has risen nearly 8 percent in 2017.

Source: Reuters UK

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