U.S. consumer confidence data backed expectations for more U.S. interest rate hikes this year.


profitaddaweb.com-Gold prices edged lower during European morning hours on Wednesday, pulling further away from its strongest level in a month as investors braced for formal Brexit procedures to be triggered by the U.K. government later in the day.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty later on Wednesday, formally beginning the two-year process of exiting the European Union.

May will send a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk on Wednesday formally announcing Britain's withdrawal from the bloc.

The correspondence will start the clock ticking on a two-year countdown to Brexit and allow negotiations to start between London and Brussels in the coming weeks.

Comex gold futures dipped $5.95, or around 0.5%, to $1,249.65 a troy ounce by 3:05AM ET (07:05GMT). Meanwhile,spot gold was down $1.90 at $1,250.10.

Gold hit its strongest since February 27 at $1,261.00 on Monday.

Market players also awaited comments from a number of Federal Reserve policymakers later in the session for more clues on the timing of the next U.S. rate hike.

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren and San Francisco Fed President John Williams are all scheduled to speak throughout the day.

The yellow metal ended Tuesday's session little changed, despite upbeat economic data and rate hike chatter from a number of Fed officials.

U.S. consumer confidence index hit 125.6 in March, according to the Conference Board, the highest since December 2000. The figure blew past expectations for a reading of 114 and came in much higher than 116.1 in February.

The solid data backed expectations for more U.S. interest rate hikes this year.

Meanwhile, Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said in a television interview that two more increases to U.S. overnight interest rates this year seemed "about right."

TheU.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was up around 0.2% at 99.68 in London morning trade, bouncing off a four-and-a-half month low of 98.67 touched on Monday.

The Fed raised interest rates earlier this month and stuck to its outlook for two more hikes this year.

Fed fund futures priced in around a 50% chance of a rate hike in June, according to Fed Rate Monitor Tool. Odds of a September increase was seen at about 70%.

The precious metal is sensitive to moves in U.S. rates, which lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding assets such as bullion. A gradual path to higher rates is seen as less of a threat to gold prices than a swift series of increases.

Also on the Comex, silver futures for May delivery shed 15.0 cents, or about 0.8%, to $18.10 a troy ounce. In the previous session, the metal touched its highest since March 2 at $18.26.

Elsewhere in metals trading, copper futures dropped 0.7 cents, or 0.3%, to $2.669 a pound.