GOLD EDGES UP AFTER MARCH DROP AS DOLLAR SLIPS

Gold kicked off April by climbing on Wednesday as the dollar retreated, but expectations the Federal Reserve is on course to lift interest rates this year capped bullion’s gains. Investors are looking to Friday’s U.S. jobs data when another strong number could boost bets the U.S. central bank will hike interest rates sooner rather than later. Economists polled by Reuters have forecast a 244,000 rise in non-farm payrolls in March, which would mark the 13th straight month of job gains of over 200,000, matching a run in 1994-95. Bullion has dropped 3 percent since touching a threeweek high last week, as the dollar gained momentum after Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s comments on Friday suggested a rate hike is still on the cards for later this year. Yellen’s remarks halted a seven-day rally in gold, its longest since 2012, that had been spurred by hopes the Fed would take it slow in raising rates. The world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, New York-listed SPDR Gold Trust, in March recorded its biggest monthly outflow since December 2013.

OIL PRICES EDGE LOWER AS IRAN TALKS EXTEND BEYOND DEADLINE

Oil futures edged lower on Wednesday amid speculation that a last-minute deal over Iran’s nuclear program would be reached that could allow more Iranian crude into world markets. Talks between Iran and six world powers to settle a dispute around Tehran’s nuclear program extended beyond a Tuesday deadline, as the parties edged towards a deal but failed to agree on crucial details such as the lifting of U.N. sanctions. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a general agreement had been reached over all key aspects of a future deal, TASS news agency quoted him as saying. A diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, later denied that an agreement had been reached. Talks had appeared to get bogged down after the United States warned it was ready to abandon them altogether and Iran affirmed its “nuclear rights”, with officials cautioning any agreement would probably be fragile and incomplete. Higher OPEC supply also put pressure on oil prices, after a Reuters survey showed the oil cartel increased supply in March to its highest since October as Iraq’s exports rebounded after bad weather and Saudi Arabia pumped at close to record rates. Higher Libyan exports could also add to a glut on world markets, after the state oil company said Libya’s two biggest oil ports, Ras Lanuf and Es Sider, would be able to open once security checks are made.

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