Published: Fri, March 17, 2017
Markets | By Terence Owen

Gold, silver futures settle lower ahead of Fed decision

Meanwhile, the Swiss franc was steady against the dollar, with USD/CHF at 1.0001 after the Swiss National Bank kept its Libor rate on hold at a record low of -0.75%.

The Aussie was down 0.3 percent at $0.7687 following its overnight surge of 2 percent to a three-week high of $0.7720. The WSJ Dollar Index was up 0.1% on the day and had fallen roughly 1% right after the Fed's decision.

London scored slender gains as official data showed the unemployment rate had struck a 41-year low, but Frankfurt and Paris wiped out their opening gains.

A protracted bout of weakness for the USA dollar would be seen as positive for commodities priced in the currency, said Richard Franulovich, a forex analyst at Westpac. Benchmark Brent settled up 1.8 percent to $51.81 a barrel.

Between February 16, 2017, and March 8, 2017, the US Dollar Index rose almost 1.6%. Oil topped $49 a barrel.

The U.S. economy has been strengthening, with the labor market nearing full employment and inflation perking up.

Markets also welcomed Dutch centre-right Prime Minister Mark Rutte's fighting off a challenge by anti-immigration, anti-European Union rival Geert Wilders to score an election win seen as a victory against populist nationalism.

Energy shares and defensive sectors such as utilities and real estate led gains.

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While the Fed surprised markets by being more dovish than expected, the Bank of England went the other way, sending sterling to a two-week high of $1.2364 after minutes showed one of nine rate-setters had voted for an interest rate hike, while others felt it would not take much to follow suit.

Trades sparked by the Federal Reserve's dovish tone partially unwound Thursday, as United States stocks slumped after the best gain in two weeks and Treasury yields edged higher following an 11-point tumble. US stock indexes are pointed toward higher openings when the NY day session begins.

Before the decision, crude had been lifted by a surprise drawdown in US crude inventories and data from the International Energy Agency suggesting OPEC cuts should create a crude deficit in the first half of 2017.

Two-year notes, which are considered most vulnerable to Fed policy, were down slightly in price, while yields increased to 1.324 percent from 1.316 percent.

US light crude settled 11 cents lower at $48.75 a barrel, but still above the three-month low hit on Tuesday.

Spot gold hit a ten-day high of $1,228.81 an ounce, after enjoying its biggest daily jump since September.

Gold rallied for the second straight session on Thursday, climbing to its highest level in over a week after the US central bank signaled only gradual rate tightening and the dollar slid to its lowest in five weeks.

USA crude futures rose 37 cents to $49.23 per barrel, adding to a 2.4 percent gain on Wednesday.

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