Gold Prices Slip Ahead of Fed Policy Meeting

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Gold prices were moving lower Tuesday as traders await the Federal Reserve's latest policy-making statement.

Gold for December delivery at the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange was losing $5.70 to $1,323.90 an ounce. The gold price traded as high as $1,330.40 and as low as $1,317 an ounce, while the spot price was dropping $3.14.

Not much action is happening in the pits as traders appear to be waiting to see what happens with the Fed as well as the monthly U.S. jobs report scheduled for Friday morning, said Paul Sacks, principal gold trader at Aurum Options Strategies.

The Fed will release its policy statement Wednesday afternoon, an announcement that analysts and economists expect will offer few surprises. The central bank is expected to generally back current policy of buying roughly $85 billion in bonds per month to support financial lending. Nonetheless, traders will be searching for any language that hints at when the Fed may begin to cut-back on its monetary stimulus program.

Tapering of asset-backed purchases by the Fed is seen by many investors as negative for gold prices because gold often trades higher on the assumption that stimulus is an inflationary policy and makes gold the hedge against inflation.

Silver prices for September delivery were off 12 cents to $19.74, while the U.S. dollar index was climbing 0.16% to $81.83.

Traders are also anticipating the July monthly jobs report as it will give markets a clue as to whether the labor market's recent strong trend higher is sustaining through the summer months.

Improving labor market conditions has been a part of the Fed's dual mandate as it has stated it will keep the federal funds rate at historically low levels at least until the national unemployment rate reaches or goes below 6.5%. With the Fed's policy tied to jobs, gold traders see a big miss on the monthly report as a signal that the central bank will continue to sustain its current monetary policy -- which has a heavy amount of monetary stimulus. A bad report could send prices higher, while a strong survey could trigger investor selling out of the yellow metal and into other assets, such as stocks.

Physical demand of gold in Asia remains steady, UBS precious metals analyst Joni Teves, writes in a note on Tuesday.

"However, most of local market participants we spoke with in China were of the impression that so long as gold prices are deemed attractive, physical demand will be strong," the note said. "Although this is unlikely to provide enough firepower for a sustainable rally, it does hold the promise of a sturdy price floor."

Gold mining stocks were mostly lower on Tuesday. Shares of Kinross Gold ( KGC) were sliding 3%, and shares of Eldorado Gold ( EGO) were off 2.9%.

Among volume leaders, Barrick Gold ( ABX) was down 2%.

Gold ETF SPDR Gold Trust ( GLD) was slipping 0.48% to $127.85 a share, while iShares Gold Trust ( IAU) was decreasing 0.54% to $12.85.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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