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AKIPRESS.COM - Gold ended lower on Thursday as investors weighed the impact of the European Central Bank's more accommodative policy stance, while palladium posted its steepest gain in nearly three months on escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine, the Wall Street Journal wrote.
Gold for December delivery, the most active contract, fell $3.80, or 0.3%, to settle at $1,266.50 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Gold prices spent the day meandering between slight gains and losses as investors weighed the ECB's surprise decision to cut interest rates in addition to announcing two bond purchasing programs. The more aggressive policy move reflects that officials have grown increasingly concerned over the recent period of very low inflation and the threat it holds to the region's economic recovery.
But for gold, the ECB's easing efforts are widely seen as a mixed blessing. While gold can benefit from greater investment demand as traders often seek hard assets as a hedge against excessive monetary stimulus, the policy shift can also weaken the euro and strengthen the dollar, making gold more expensive for buyers who use other currencies.
On Thursday, the euro fell to $1.2920, its lowest level in nearly 14 months, putting pressure on gold demand. Still, the fact that gold's declines in dollar terms were relatively small is a sign that the precious metal is holding its own against the currency shifts and performing the function of a store of value, said John Payne, senior market analyst with Daniels Trading in Chicago.
"When the dollar goes up in value and gold stays relatively flat, gold actually goes up in value in other currencies," Mr. Payne said. "If you priced it in euros gold had a heck of a day, it's appreciated, it just hasn't appreciated in U.S. dollars," he added.
In euro terms, gold prices rose roughly 1.1% today. Meanwhile, palladium prices rebounded off two-week lows touched Wednesday as fresh tensions between Russia and Ukraine reanimated worries about supply.
Russia's foreign minister said Thursday that Ukraine's ambitions to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are endangering attempts to reach a cease-fire between Kiev and pro-Russia separatists in Eastern Europe. NATO's civilian head Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Russian forces continue to destabilize Ukraine, even as the sides are to hold talks Friday in the first steps toward the peace process.
Some investors worry that Western trade sanctions against Russia, the world's top producer of palladium, or retaliatory trade curbs by the Kremlin will disrupt supply of the metal to the market. Russia accounts for about 40% of global palladium supply, and the majority of the metal is used by the automotive industry in exhaust filters.
Palladium for December delivery, the most active contract, rose $15.05, or 1.7%, to settle at $891.00 a troy ounce on the Nymex.