Gold prices eased slightly in Asia on Monday after a further signal that a rate hike in March is a solid possibility in otherwise light trade with U.S. markets shut for a holiday.
Gold for February delivery eased 0.37% to $1,234.555 on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Copper rose 0.30% t$2.716 a pound as concerns over supply disruptions persist. A strike at BHP Billiton (LON:BLT)'s Escondida in Chile, the world's largest copper mine, has boosted sentiment as has an output halt at Freeport-McMoRan's giant Grasberg mine in Indonesia.
In Singapore, Cleveland Federal Reserve President Loretta Mester said on Monday she would be comfortable raising interest rates at this point if the economy kept performing the way it did. "We did have a temporary oil price shock which held down inflation, we had the dollar appreciation which held down inflation. Those have passed through and the trend in inflation is, it's moving up," Mester said at a central banking seminar.
In the holiday shortened week ahead, the Fed is to publish the minutes of its February meeting on Wednesday, which will be scrutinized for clues on the timing of the next rate hike.
Investors will be looking to U.S. housing data in order to see whether the rise in consumer spending and inflation is translating into higher house prices and a pick-up in home sales. Markets will also be watching survey data on private sector activity in the euro zone on Tuesday.
Last week, gold prices fell on Friday as the stronger dollar outweighed concerns about uncertainty surrounding U.S. policy and upcoming elections in Europe.
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