Precious metals endured a market selloff on Wednesday (1 March) as US President Donald Trump's address to Congress flattered to deceive safe-haven hedgers, while New York Federal Reserve chief William Dudley's comments strengthened the dollar against a basket of global currencies.
The greenback jumped by over 1% against the yen and notched gains of over 0.5% against the Swiss franc, euro and pound sterling as Dudley joined Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker in reiterating that the American economy was in good shape and could handle further rate rises in 2017.
Speaking on CNN overnight, Dudley – deemed a close ally of Janet Yellen – added that "The case for monetary policy tightening has become a lot more compelling."
Consequently, the greenback's broad-based rally, sent the dollar index above its recent short-term resistance at 101.70 thus moving back above the 50-day moving average and heading higher.
Meanwhile, President Trump's address to Congress was thin on policy matters and lacked any of the recent fireworks and angry outbursts that have provided safe-haven investors with so much food for thought.
In keep with convention, gold – the poster contract of the precious metals market – took the brunt of the dollar's strength. At 4.35pm GMT, the Comex gold futures contract for April delivery was down 0.72% or $9.0 at $1,244.90 an ounce, having recently breached the $1,255 level. Concurrently, spot gold was down 0.25% or $3.09 at $1,245.35 an ounce.
FXTM's vice president of market research Jameel Ahmad said: "If gold's intraday weakness continues, the yellow metal could enter a three-day losing streak. The main catalyst for the near three-month high seen late last week was due to investors hedging against political risk.
"However, I believe that gold is at risk to further losses as investors begin to price in at least the possibility that the Fed could pull the trigger and raise interest rates in March."
Elsewhere, Comex silver was down 0.18% or 3 cents at $18.44 an ounce, while spot platinum fell 0.57% or $5.81 at $1,018.46 an ounce.
Away from precious metals, oil benchmarks maintained the pattern of barely moving from their recent $50 per barrel-plus tight range.
At 4.44pm GMT, the Brent front month futures contract was broadly flat at $56.51 per barrel; up a mere 0.01% or 2 cents, while the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was 0.04% or 2 cents lower at $53.99 per barrel.
In a note to its clients, ratings agency Moody's maintained its medium-term price band of $40-$60 per barrel for both Brent and WTI, lending further weight to market conjecture that it's a market that's going nowhere.
Both Brent and WTI have traded above the $50 mark since the start of the year, but are showing little signs of an uptick to $60, as the upside risk of Opec production cuts and downside drag of rising US production continue to cancel each other out.