By Amrith Ramkumar and David Hodari
Gold prices fell for a fourth straight session with the Federal Reserve beginning its final meeting of the year.
Gold for February delivery declined 0.4% to $1,241.70 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices have fallen to their lowest level since July recently, weighed down by a rebounding dollar and investor concerns over higher interest rates. A dollar-denominated commodity, gold becomes more expensive for overseas buyer when the U.S. currency grows stronger. It also struggles to compete with yield-bearing assets like Treasurys as borrowing costs rise.
The Fed is widely expected to announce a third rate increase of 2017 following the conclusion of its two-day meeting Wednesday. Investors and analysts have said they will be paying close attention to the central bank's outlook for 2018, as some have said projections for fewer rate increases next year or statements indicating a cautious approach could buoy gold prices.
"The Fed tomorrow ends up being really important to this forward gold market," said Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.
Prices are roughly 7.5% off their year-to-date highs from early September, though they are still up about 8% for the year. Some analysts have said they expect them to rise after the Fed meeting.
The dollar's recent rise amid the possibility of tax cuts has hurt gold and other commodities. The WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of 16 others, was up 0.1% Tuesday, paring earlier losses after data was released showing a gauge of U.S. business prices rose in November, pointing to emerging inflation pressure in the economy.
The producer-price index for final demand, which measures changes in the prices U.S. companies receive for their goods and services, increased a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in November from a month earlier
"This morning's PPI number is not comforting if you're a gold bull," Mr. Haworth said. "It points to a hawkish Fed in the future."
Among base metals, copper for March delivery swung between small gains and losses and closed up 0.4% at $3.0230 a pound. The industrial metal surged back above $3 Monday, with Commerzbank analysts saying in a note that bullish lending data out of China, the world's largest base metals consumer, supported prices. Monday's gains came after copper had its worst day in almost three years last week, with some investors concerned the Chinese economy will slow down moving forward.
For the year, they are up nearly 20% and roughly 6.5% off their three-year highs from October.