Gold prices fell to a fresh four-month low in European trade on Monday, as investors looked ahead to comments from key Fed officials and a raft of U.S. economic data for further signs of the central bank’s likely rate hike trajectory through the end of the year.

Comex gold futures were at $1,205.63 a troy ounce by 3:15AM ET (0715GMT), down $4.20, or around 0.4%. It touched it its lowest since March 15 at $1,204.00 earlier.

Gold fell sharply on Friday to notch its fifth weekly loss in a row as upbeat monthly data on U.S. jobs supported expectations for at least one more rate hike from the Federal Reserve this year.

The U.S. economy added 222,000 jobs last month the Labor Department reported, more than the 179,000 new jobs expected by economists. Figures for April and May were also revised to show that 47,000 more jobs were created than previously reported.

But while the employment headline number was strong, inflation pressure was still tame. Average hourly earnings increased just 0.2% in June, falling short of the estimated 0.3% increase.

The rapid pace of jobs growth reassured investors that the economy is on a strong enough footing to justify the Fed’s plans to raise interest rates once more this year.

The Fed hiked rates at its June meeting and stuck to its forecast for one more rate hike this year, but the subdued inflation outlook has since raised doubts over whether the U.S. central bank will be able to stick to its planned tightening path.

Futures traders are pricing in less than a 15% chance of a hike at the Fed’s September meeting, according to Investing.com’s Fed Rate Monitor Tool. Odds of a December increase was seen at around 45%.

Global financial markets will focus on Fed Chair Janet Yellen‘s testimony to both houses of Congress in the coming week, as they continue to mull the possible end of monetary stimulus from central banks around the globe.

Source: Investing.com