Gold price dips below $1,200

In another day of above average trading volumes, gold dropped through the psychologically important $1,200 an ounce level on Thursday as the metal comes under pressure from a strong US dollar and a looming interest rate hike in the US.

Gold for delivery in April, the most active contract on the Comex market in New York with nearly 23m ounces traded, slumped to a low of $1,199.o0, a more than five week low.  Year-to-date the metal's gains have been trimmed to just over 4%.

While tighter monetary policy is not bullish, inflation and a range of uncertainties, including European elections and protectionism should support the yellow metal

Because gold is not yield-producing and investors have to rely on price appreciation for returns, the metal has a strong inverse correlation to US government bond yields.

The metal also usually moves in the opposite direction of the US dollar thanks in part to the growing effect of physically-backed gold ETFs traded in the US.

The current weakness may be temporary according to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch  research note released Thursday quoted by CNBC:
However, if hourly earnings are much higher than expected and the rest of the report is also strong investors may start to worry that the Fed is behind the curve

"While tighter monetary policy is not bullish, inflation and a range of uncertainties, including European elections and protectionism should support the yellow metal. As such, we see prices at $1,400 (per troy ounce) by year-end".

Bloomberg points out that it's the worst run for gold since October and quotes Brad Yates, head of trading for Elemetal, one of the biggest US gold refiners as saying there could be more pain ahead:

“If the data continues to be as good as it was, or improves, we could see the Fed move toward further hawkishness."

ABN Amro in a research note says strong US payroll numbers on Friday could turn out to be bullish for gold:

If hourly earnings come in around expectations and the rest of the US employment report is strong, the US dollar will probably profit. However, if hourly earnings are much higher than expected and the rest of the report is also strong investors may start to worry that the Fed is behind the curve. It is likely that this will weigh on the dollar and support gold prices.