BENGALURU - Gold prices inched lower on Monday, as the dollar held firm below a 19-month peak on safe-haven demand amid concerns of a global economic slowdown, and as investors awaited cues on U.S. interest rate hikes from a Federal Reserve meeting later this week.
Spot gold was down 0.1 percent at $1,237.51 per ounce, as of 0401 GMT, after having hit its lowest since Dec. 4 at $1,232.39 on Friday.
U.S. gold futures were little changed at $1,241.3 per ounce.
Gold has not recovered yet from Friday's decline, said analyst Helen Lau of Argonaut Securities, adding that prices were moving on the strong dollar over the weekend.
Weaker-than-expected economic data out of China and Europe and fears of a possible U.S. government shutdown enhanced appeal for the U.S. currency, which has played the role of a safe-haven asset in recent times. [MKTS/GLOB] [FRX/]
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against other major currencies, was just below the 19-month high of 97.71 hit on Friday.
Markets will closely watch the future trajectory of U.S. monetary policy at the Federal Reserve's Dec. 18-19 meeting where the board is set to raise interest rates by 25 basis points.
"Markets will rally on the back of dollar weakness after the central bank signals a more dovish stance, but the advance will fall back quickly as global growth concerns reassert themselves," INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir said in a note.
Lower interest rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion and weigh on the dollar.
Spot gold is biased to break a support at $1,232 per ounce, and fall to a lower support zone of $1,224-$1,228, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.
Meanwhile, hedge funds and money managers switched to net long position in Comex gold in the week to Dec. 11, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Friday. [CFTC/]
This was the first time gold speculators held a net long position since July, and the strongest since June.
"Uncertainties of the trade war are still weighing on the market," said Dick Poon, general manager, Heraeus Metals Hong Kong Ltd.
"It is getting close to Christmas time, so it is getting super quiet in the market. Investors reduce their inventories as much as possible before the year ends."
Among other precious metals, spot palladium gained to $1,238.20 per ounce.
Silver declined marginally to $14.56 per ounce, while platinum fell 0.6 percent to $782.50 per ounce.