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Gold at one-month low on dollar ahead of U.S. data, Fed speeches

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LONDON Gold hit its lowest in a month on Monday, as the dollar firmed ahead of new U.S. economic data and speeches by Federal Reserve officials that may signal more interest rate increases than anticipated.

All eyes will be on Fed Chair Janet Yellen who speaks on the U.S. economy and monetary policy on Tuesday, with investors looking for further clues on the number and timing of rate hikes this year.

Spot gold was down 0.1 percent at $1,214.86 an ounce by 0903 GMT, after touching a session low of $1,208.15, its cheapest since Feb. 23. The metal lost 3 percent last week, its biggest weekly loss since November on speculation that the next U.S. rate increase could come as soon as next month.

Liquidity was thin as London and many other gold markets were closed for the Easter Monday holiday.

“Gold’s short-term technical trend has slightly deteriorated, with the $1,190-$1,200 level becoming a strong support area,” said Carlo Alberto de Casa, ActivTrades chief analyst.

Hawkish comments from several U.S. Federal Reserve officials last week put investors on guard for the possibility of at least two rates increases this year, triggering a widespread correction across commodities and bolstering the dollar, in which they are denominated.

“While we have stated that Fed tightening may not be as negative for gold as in previous tightening cycles, an April rate rise would likely knock gold lower near term,” HSBC said in a note.

The dollar hit a 1-1/2-week high versus a basket of currencies ahead of U.S. non-farm payrolls and the manufacturing purchasing managers index on Friday.

“A non-farm payrolls number above 200,000 could give the market enough confidence to price in two rate hikes this year, weighing on gold,” ActivTrades’ de Casa said.

The market focus will also be on New York Fed President William Dudley’s speech and the Chicago purchasing managers index (PMI) on Thursday.

Inflows into gold exchange-traded funds (ETF) continued, however, suggesting that some confidence in bullion remained.

Holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed ETF, rose to its highest since December 2013 at 26.48 million ounces on Thursday, the latest available data shows.

Hedge funds and money managers increased their bullish positions in COMEX gold in the week to March 22, when the metal rallied more than 1 percent after deadly bomb attacks hit Brussels, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed on Friday.

Russia and Kazakhstan added to their bullion reserves in February, while Malaysia and Turkey cut their holdings, data from the International Monetary Fund showed on Friday.

Spot silver gained 0.1 percent to $15.17 an ounce, palladium rose 0.9 percent to $577.20 and platinum was unchanged at $946.50 an ounce.

(Additional reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr. in Manila, editing by Louise Heavens)


Source: R-Business

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Cricket-Kohli masterclass prompts Tendulkar comparisons

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NEW DELHI Indian great Sachin Tendulkar remains the gold standard of batting in the post-Bradman era but Virat Kohli’s latest masterclass in Sunday’s World Twenty20 shootout against Australia has prompted comparisons with his famous compatriot.

(See pictures of the match here)

Not for the first time in the tournament, it took Kohli’s masterly knock to get India across the line in a virtual quarter-final against the reigning 50-overs world champions.

Kohli remained unbeaten after a sublime 82, burnishing his reputation as arguably the best chaser in limited-overs cricket with a knock that reminded many of Tendulkar’s 143 against Australia in a 1998 one-dayer at Sharjah dubbed “desert storm”.

Shane Warne was at the receiving end of Tendulkar’s wrath in that match and 18 years since the contest, the Australian spin great saw Tendulkar’s shadow in Kohli’s latest knock.

“Great knock by @imVkohli Reminded me of one of your many special innings buddy,” Warne tweeted to his great rival Tendulkar after Kohli secured India a place in the semi-finals on Sunday.

Kohli bejewelled his knock with two sixes and nine boundaries and sprinted tirelessly between wickets in a flawless display of limited overs batting under tremendous pressure.

He middled every ball, timed his shots with surgical precision and found gaps with eerie regularity to stamp his class.

“Of the modern players, I’ve always thought that Brian Lara was the best placer of the ball,” former Australia captain Ian Chappell told www.espncricinfo.com. “I think I have got Brian in second spot now.”

LARA’S PRAISE

The West Indian batting great was also bowled by what he saw and requested videos of Kohli’s early days, hailing the Indian as the “best timer of a cricket ball” that he has seen.

At 27, Kohli stands on the brink of batting greatness with 36 international centuries against his name and averages of 44 in tests, 51 in one-dayers and 55 in Twenty20 matches.

It has been a fascinating transformation of a Delhi cricketer perceived initially as yet another brash brat from the streets of a city long accused of inculcating aggression in its youth.

Since Kohli’s international debut in a one-dayer against Sri Lanka eight years ago, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has closely watched the tattoo-wearing, blunt-speaking, heart-on-his-sleeve youngster transform into a mature match-winner.

Kohli hates the idea of an on-field confrontations that doesn’t include him and Dhoni argued it suits the player who succeeded him as India’s test captain.

“He will always be the same,” Dhoni said after the victory in Mohali. “He will be an aggressive character who will be ready to take on challenges and he will be aggressive on the field.

“But he will also improve. He is shifting in the right direction but he is a tremendous character. He should not lose his character because that’s what his strength is.”

(Editing by Patrick Johnston)


Source: R-Csports

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Asia stocks slip, dollar firms as U.S. data, Fed comments awaited

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SINGAPORE/TOKYO The dollar firmed on Monday and most Asian markets surrendered early gains as investors cautiously awaited U.S. economic data and speeches by Federal Reserve officials this week that could signal more interest rate increases than expected.

European markets are closed for the Easter Monday holiday.

U.S. stock futures ticked up 0.3 percent, although they remain flat for the quarter.

In the past week, the dollar has been helped by stronger-than-expected gross domestic product data and comments from some Fed officials indicating that policymakers think they could raise interest rates as early as next month.

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies rose as high as 96.339, its highest in almost two weeks. It was last trading up 0.1 percent at 96.273.

“Fed officials generally looked to share views that they need to maintain a rate hike path given a U.S. recovery,” said Jeong My-young, Samsung Futures’ research head in Seoul. The dollar rose 0.4 percent to 113.51 yen, keeping intact its steady recovery from a 6-1/2-month low of 110.67 hit on March 17 after a Federal Reserve meeting that left markets convinced U.S. interest rates would not rise soon.

The yen weakness gave Japan’s Nikkei a 0.8 percent boost to its highest close in two weeks.

Japan was the region’s sole winner. With share markets in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong closed for holidays, the MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.1 percent.

Shares in Korea ended the day little changed, and Taiwan gave up earlier gains to close down 0.2 percent.

Chinese stocks also reversed course, with the Shanghai Composite index falling 0.3 percent and the CSI 300 losing 0.4 percent.

Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines all extended losses, trading between 0.3 percent and 1.2 percent lower.

U.S. GDP increased at a 1.4 percent annual rate in Oct-Dec, above the previously reported 1.0 percent pace, driven by fairly strong consumer spending, the third GDP estimate showed on Friday.

U.S. PCE inflation data due at 1230 GMT could further fan expectations of an early rate move if it shows increasing inflationary pressure.

“The PCE inflation has been rising of late. The Fed has said the prices will be the key in determining policy so the data should attract a lot of attention,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management.

The annual core PCE inflation rose 1.7 percent in January, the fastest pace since July 2014.

The data will be followed by a speech from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and a few other Fed policymakers on Tuesday, making the Fed’s policy the biggest focus for now. [FED/DIARY]

Given that money markets are pricing in only about a 50 percent chance of a rate hike by the Fed in June, with hardly any significant likelihood in April factored in, signs of a tightening in the next quarter could rattle financial markets.

Gold, which earlier fell to a one-month low, recovered some of those losses to trade down 0.2 percent at $1,216.10 an ounce.

The euro was little changed at $1.1163, not far from Thursday’s one-week low of $1.1144.

The Australian dollar advanced 0.3 percent to $0.7525 having lost 1.4 percent last week and knocked away from an eight-month high of $0.7681.

Oil prices, which have risen about 50 percent since multi-year lows hit in January, extended their gains in thin trading, powered by major producers’ plans to freeze output at January’s highs.

U.S. crude futures gained 1.3 percent to $39.96 per barrel, and Brent advanced 1.2 percent to $40.91.

(Additional reporting by Jongwoo CHEON; Editing by Kim Coghill)


Source: R-Business

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