PRECIOUS-Gold slips toward 2-1/2-month lows as Fed rate hike looms
Adds comment, updates prices
By Eileen Soreng
May 2 (Reuters) - Gold prices slipped 1% toward 2-1/2-month lows on Monday as investors braced for a large interest rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve, as it seeks to contain soaring inflation, denting the zero-yield bullion's appeal.
Spot gold XAU= fell 1.2% to $1,873.95 per ounce by 1203 GMT, hovering near last week's low of $1,871.81 an ounce. U.S. gold futures GCv1 dropped 1.9% to $1,876.70.
"Calls for more and more rate hikes by Fed officials has been setting the tone in the gold market lately, and that also pushed up the yields on 10-year TIPS (Treasury Inflation-Protected Security) recently... This is providing the biggest headwind for gold taken together with a quite a strong U.S. dollar," said Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke.
The U.S. central bank's Federal Open Market Committee is scheduled to begin its two-day meeting on May 3 and announce its decision the next day.
U.S. policymakers look set to deliver a series of aggressive rate hikes at least until the summer to deal with rapid inflation and surging labour costs, even as two reports released on Friday showed tentative signs that both may be cresting. nL2N2WR1WL
"I don't see cooldown in inflation any time soon... That's why the Fed's future interest rate hike trajectory and plans for quantitative tightening will be the market's focus," said Jigar Trivedi, a commodities analyst at Mumbai-based broker Anand Rathi Shares.
"$1,850 and then $1,830 appear to be good support levels."
Gold is highly exposed to interest rates as higher rates lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding assets and strengthen the dollar in which gold is priced, making bullion expensive for holders of other currencies.
The dollar held near a 20-year high, while benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields rose towards recent multi-year peaks. US/ USD/
Spot silver XAG= fell 0.7% to $22.59 per ounce, its lowest since Feb. 7.
Palladium XPD= slid 2% to $2,273.51 while platinum XPT= rose 0.2% to $932.81.
(Reporting by Eileen Soreng and Swati Verma in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi and Louise Heavens)