(Reuters) - Gold edged lower on Wednesday, as mounting fears over Ireland’s fiscal health sparked a strong rally in the dollar, pressuring bullion, while worries about China tightening monetary policy weighed on sentiment.
Euro zone finance ministers agreed on Tuesday to lay the groundwork for bailing out Ireland’s banking sector with the IMF, but said Dublin had to decide itself whether to request the aid.
The dollar hit seven-week highs against the euro as a result.
“In the short term, the Ireland crisis may weigh on gold because it is boosting the dollar,” said Hou Xinqiang, an analyst at Jinrui Futures in China. “But if going forward it spilled over to other nations and caused concerns on the health of the entire euro zone economy, that would help support gold.”
Spot gold fell 0.2 percent to $1,337.41 an ounce by 10:20 p.m. EST, extending a two percent fall in the previous session.
U.S. gold futures remained little changed at $1,337.8.
Gold may head down further to $1,330, or even lower after it broke below a key support level around $1,350, analysts and traders said.
“It (Ireland) is probably an excuse to offload the heavy long positions that have been built in the past couple of months,” said a Hong Kong-based trader.
But uncertainties in the global economic recovery and worries over inflation down the road will continue to attract investors to gold.
“Short-term looks a bit soft, but it still hasn’t derailed the medium- and long-term bullish sentiment. Since the market is heavily one-sided, it won’t be a surprise to see continuous long liquidation and some profit-taking,” the trader said.
The Relative Strength Index on spot gold, used to measure trade interest, fell to 45.029, its lowest since early August. In early October, the RSI hit an 11-year high of 86.246, suggesting the market was well overbought.
CHINA TIGHTENING FEAR
Speculation is mounting that China may step up policy tightening to curb inflation, after October’s reading hit a 25-month high.
“The market has shifted from anticipation on inflation to expectations on measures to fight inflation,” the analyst at Jinrui Futures said. “That’s why we have seen a broad sell-off in commodities.”
Amid talks of an imminent interest rate hike and the government’s pledge to control food price rise, a number of commodities traded on China’s exchanges, including soybean, soyoil, copper and zinc, fell by their daily limit.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC opened down 1.5 percent on tightening fears, after it slumped to a one-month low in the previous session. .SS
Spot platinum fell to a seven-week low of $1,624, before recovering to $1,629.24.
Spot palladium declined to a two-week low of $630.22.
Platinum group metals are set to continue to thrive in 2011 as a tightening of the metals’ underlying fundamentals keeps sentiment upbeat, metals refiner Johnson Matthey said in a report.