Gold tumbles as chances rise of USA rate hike in March

Gold tumbles as chances rise of USA rate hike in March

The probability attached to a March rate hike rose to 52 per cent on Wednesday, up from 34 per cent a week earlier.

The crowd is now pricing in a 31% probability that the Federal Reserve will lift its policy rate from the current 0.50-0.75% range to 0.75-1.0% at the FOMC meeting on March 13-14, based on CME data as of February 27.

The ostensible reason was that banks find it easier to make profits in times of higher interest rates - and so bank share prices led the way as the United States market hit new record highs and others followed. In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, New York Federal Reserve President Bill Dudley said the case for tightening had become more "compelling". USD/JPY briefly dipped in the latter part of the President's speech, but more than made up for the slide into the end of Wednesday as Fed hike expectations bloomed.

The euro rebounded from recent weakness to rise 0.93 percent against the dollar after a poll showed French far-right candidate Marine Le Pen's chances in the country's presidential election dimming.

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Earlier in the week, Robert Kaplan, head of the Dallas Fed, said he thought the central bank would likely raise rates "in the near future".

Mohamed El-Erian, the chief economic adviser at Allianz SE and chairman of the President's Global Development Council, notes that "rate sentiment was further influenced by signals from the White House that President Donald Trump's first budget would include a substantial and "historic" increase in defense spending of $54 billion".

While not specifying how many rate hikes could occur this year, Yellen noted that Fed officials in December had estimated that there would be three in 2017. And the answer needs to await the 10 March jobs report and the numbers for wage growth in particular.

As she did in January, Yellen insisted that the Fed was not behind the curve in raising rates, despite having increased them only twice since the Great Recession ended nearly eight years ago. Fed rate hikes - or the anticipation of them - tend to boost the currency.

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Trump's speech lacked "fresh content for the market to trade off, with big tax cuts, deregulation and an infrastructure plan being mentioned but not supported by any details", McGuire noted.

Gold prices are lower again today and hit a two-week low.

The S&P 500 Index ended at 2,383.12, up 0.1% from the previous close.

"Fed members don't just let words slip out when they speak to the press - this was a message for the markets, and the markets have duly reacted".

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Coupled with the comments of other Fed officials in recent days, and looking ahead to remarks by Fed Chair Janet Yellen on Friday, Brainard's comments will likely help cement sentiment that the Fed will raise rates in two weeks.

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