Gold / Silver / Copper futures - weekly outlook: September 15 - 19

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Shutterstock photo - - Gold futures tumbled to an eight-month low on Friday, as growing expectations for higher U.S. interest rates dampened sentiment for the precious metal.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for December delivery hit a session low of $1,228.10 a troy ounce on Friday, a level not seen since January 9.

Prices recovered to settle at $1,231.50, down $7.50, or 0.61%, for the day. For the week, Comex gold prices lost $39.20, or 3.09%, its biggest weekly drop since May.

Futures were likely to find support at $1,218.60, the low from January 8 and resistance at $1,242.30, the high from September 12.

Upbeat U.S. economic data on Friday underlined optimism over the strength of the economy and fuelled expectations that the Federal Reserve will begin to raise rates sooner than previously thought.

In a preliminary report, the University of Michigan said its consumer sentiment index rose to a 14-month high of 84.6 this month, from a reading of 82.5 in August.

The data came after a government report showed that U.S. retail sales rose 0.6% last month, in line with expectations.

Expectations that the Fed is growing closer to raising interest rates continued to boost the U.S. dollar against the yen and the euro, with the Japanese and European central banks likely to stick to a looser monetary policy stance.

The Dollar Index, which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, ended the week close to a 14-month high.

A stronger U.S. dollar usually weighs on gold, as it dampens the metal's appeal as an alternative asset and makes dollar-priced commodities more expensive for holders of other currencies.

In the week ahead, investors will be focusing on the outcome of Wednesday's Fed policy meeting. Fed Chair Janet Yellen was to hold a press conference following the meeting.

The central bank was expected to cut its asset purchase program by another $10 billion, which would keep it on track for winding up the program in October, and to start raising interest rates sometime in mid-2015.

Gold costs money to store and struggles to compete yield-bearing assets when interest rates are on the rise.

Data from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission released Friday showed that hedge funds and money managers decreased their bullish bets in gold futures in the week ending September 9.

Net longs totaled 71,376 contracts, down 3.6% from net longs of 74,031 in the preceding week.

Also on the Comex, silver for December delivery inched up 0.7 cents, or 0.04%, on Friday to settle the week at $18.60 a troy ounce by close of trade. Prices hit $18.45 earlier in the day, the lowest since June 28, 2013.

On the week, the December silver futures contract lost 55.0 cents, or 2.87%, the eighth weekly decline over the past nine weeks.

Data from the CFTC showed that net silver longs totaled 2,237 contracts as of last week, compared to net longs of 6,264 contracts in the preceding week.

Elsewhere in metals trading, copper for December delivery tacked on 1.4 cents, or 0.45%, on Friday to end the week at $3.106 a pound by close of trade. Futures fell to an 11-week low of $3.062 on Thursday.

Comex copper prices lost 6.3 cents, or 1.98%, on the week, amid speculation weakening economic growth in China will reduce demand for the industrial metal.

Data released over the weekend showed that industrial production in China rose at an annualized rate of 6.9% in August, missing estimates for a gain of 8.8% and slowing from an increase of 9% a month earlier.

Fixed asset investment, which tracks construction activity, rose 16.5% in the January-August period, below expectations for a gain of 16.9% and slowing from 17.0% in the January-July period.

The weaker than expected data underlined concerns about China's economy and sparked speculation policymakers in Beijing will have to introduce fresh stimulus to meet the government's 7.5% growth target.

The Asian nation is the world's largest copper consumer, accounting for almost 40% of world consumption last year.

According to the CFTC, net copper shorts totaled 2,077 contracts as of last week, down sharply from net longs of 6,657 contracts in the preceding week.

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