13 Feb 2014
LONDON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Gold hovered below a three-month high on Thursday, struggling to break above $1,300 as investor caution ahead of a series of U.S. economic figures offset support from a sharply lower dollar and weaker equity markets.
Spot gold was up 0.1 percent at $1,291.61 an ounce by 1101 GMT, having hit a three-month high of $1,295.91 on Wednesday.
Traders said there was strong technical resistance at the $1,300 level, last seen on Nov. 8.
U.S. gold futures for February delivery were down 0.3 percent at $1,291.80 an ounce.
"The gold market is still holding quite well but is having some difficulties to test the $1,300 psychological barrier as traders are digesting the gains made earlier in the week," Quantitative Commodity Research owner Peter Fertig said.
"That level could be breached as long as the environment for the metal remains positive, with some uncertainty in the equity markets and a lower dollar ahead of today's data."
The dollar fell 0.5 percent against a basket of major currencies, while a rally in global shares ended after a week of gains on relief over the continuity in U.S. Federal Reserve policy, hints that the European Central Bank could provide more support in the euro zone and an easing of pressure on emerging markets.
Usually, gold holds an inverse correlation with the dollar, with a weaker U.S. currency making the metal cheaper and increasing demand. Meanwhile, investor risk aversion tends to increase interest in gold, often regarded as a safe haven.
But at times over the past few sessions the metal has moved in the same direction as equities.
The market awaited U.S. jobless claims and January U.S retail sales data, due for release at 1330 GMT, for further direction on the dollar and gold.
Recent U.S. data, including two straight months of weak jobs growth, have raised questions over whether the world's biggest economy can sustain the strength it showed in the second half of last year and made some investors hope the Fed would take a slower approach to tapering its monthly bond purchases.
"Gold may need a compelling reason to hold onto gains over $1,300 lest profit taking chips away at gains," HSBC said in a note.
Higher gold prices over the past few sessions have curtailed physical buying from China, the world's biggest gold consumer, after trading volumes hit their highest since May at the start of the week.
Premiums for 99.99 percent purity gold fell to $5 on Thursday from $7 in the previous session.
Silver was unchanged at $20.19 an ounce.
Platinum was trading down 0.7 percent at $1,394.00 an ounce, while palladium lost 0.1 percent to $723.75 an ounce. - Reuters
On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for April delivery traded at USD1,292.70 a troy ounce during Asian trading, down 0.18%.
Stimulus measures such as Fed bond purchases tend to weaken the dollar by suppressing long-term interest rates to make stocks more attractive, thus bolstering gold's role as a portfolio hedge.
12 Feb 2014
Underlying operating profit NOK 483 mln vs fcast 310 mln
Offers dividend of NOK 0.75 per share, as expected
Says market remains uncertain but is more upbeat on 2014
OSLO, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Norsk Hydro, one of the world's largest producers of aluminium, reported core earnings well above forecasts on Wednesday due to cost cuts and offered a dividend for 2013 in line with expectations.
The price of aluminium - used in the aerospace, construction and automotive sectors - has nearly halved since 2008 due to a massive global surplus of the metal, forcing loss-making firms to slash capacity and make savings.
Norsk Hydro was no exception and had to make several rounds of cost savings throughout its divisions.
"Extensive improvement programmes backed our results for 2013, despite market uncertainty and low aluminium prices," Chief Executive Svein Richard Brandtzaeg said in a statement.
"Although the uncertainty remains, we are entering 2014 on a positive note, as we expect demand for aluminium to slightly exceed production this year, in the world outside China."
Hydro reiterated that it saw world demand outside China growing by 2-4 percent in 2014.
Underlying operating profit rose to 483 million crowns ($79.02 million) for the fourth quarter from 138 million a year ago, beating expectations for 310 million in a Reuters poll.
Norsk Hydro fared better than some of its peers. The United States' biggest producer, Alcoa, reported a big loss for the fourth quarter due to falling aluminium prices earlier this year.
MINING and trading group
Glencore Xstrata yesterday beat analysts' forecasts with a 26 per cent rise in annual copper output, boosted by strong growth at its African and Chilean mines.
Output of both copper and coal, the two biggest earners for
Glencore's industrial side, rose in the year to the end of December, offsetting a decline in nickel, lead and zinc.
The company, which of the diversified miners has the biggest exposure to copper, said its ownsourced copper production rose by more than a quarter to 1.5m tonnes in 2013, passing analysts' expectations for a rise of 16 to 25 per cent.
The division, which accounts for about 30 per cent of the company's profits, benefited from strong growth at its Congolese mines and at Collahuasi in
Chile , a joint venture with rival Anglo American inherited with the acquisition of Xstrata last year.
"Copper is central to our bullish stance on
Glencore Xstrata given our positive view on the future price development of the commodity and the strong prospects for Glencore to grow production," Bernstein research analysts said in a note. - Kitco