Gold Near 2-Month Low After Fed Rate Hike Fears

As of 0317 GMT. U.S. gold futures was flat at $1,817.40. (File)
As of 0317 GMT. U.S. gold futures was flat at $1,817.40. (File)

Gold was flat and hovered near a two-month low on Monday, after strong U.S. economic data stoked fears that the Federal Reserve would implement more interest rate hikes to rein in inflation.

Spot gold was unchanged at $1,810.48 per ounce, as of 0317 GMT. U.S. gold futures was flat at $1,817.40.

Data on Friday showed consumer spending shot up 1.8% last month - the largest increase since March 2021.

The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, the Fed's preferred inflation measure, rose 0.6% last month, after gaining 0.2% in December.

"A two-year high consumer spending coupled with robust job numbers released earlier this month would give confidence to the Fed to boost rates to tackle inflation," said Hareesh V, head of commodity research at Geojit Financial Services.

"This may adversely affect the appeal of gold," which pays no interest, he added. 

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told Reuters on Saturday that new data showing inflation jumped unexpectedly in January signals the fight against inflation "is not a straight line" and more work is needed.

"It's going to take more effort on the part of the Fed to get inflation on that sustainable downward path to 2%," Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said on Friday.

Gold prices hit their highest since April 2022 earlier this month, but have since lost about $150 after a flurry of U.S. data pointed to a resilient economy and a tight labour market.

Money markets expect the Fed's target rate to peak at 5.4% in July, from a current range of 4.50% to 4.75%.

The dollar index was near a seven-week peak, making bullion expensive for buyers holding other currencies. [USD/]

Spot silver fell 0.6% to $20.65 per ounce, platinum eased 0.1% to $908.62 and palladium gained 1.1% to $1,418.58.