London (Reuters): Gold hit the lowest level in more than four weeks on Tuesday as the dollar strengthened and expectations for a US interest rate hike this month weighed, though moves were muted ahead of US payroll data this week.
The precious metal has fallen in five out of the last six sessions as expectations for the Federal Reserve to push ahead with a US rate increase this month ramped up.
Spot gold was down 0.9 percent at $1,214.51 an ounce by 2:52 p.m. EST (1952 GMT), having touched its lowest since Feb. 3 at $1,213.65 an ounce. US gold futures (GCv1) for April delivery settled down 0.8 percent at $1,216.10.
"The technical rejection at the 200-day moving average last week, combined with the rapid build up in spec longs that week, has left gold vulnerable," Saxo Bank's head of commodity strategy Ole Hansen said. "There is no appetite for buying for gold ahead of a FOMC rate hike."
The metal slipped last week after comments from US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen that the Fed was poised to lift benchmark US rates were seen as cementing plans for an increase at the Fed's March 14-15 meeting. Gold is highly sensitive to rising US interest rates, as these increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, while boosting the dollar in which it is priced.