PRECIOUS-Gold dips as debt fears hit euro

Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:05pm IST

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* Euro just off two-month low vs dollar on Greece fears

* Uncertainty over approaching U.S. 'fiscal cliff' remains

* Platinum market set to swing into deficit this year

By David Brough

LONDON, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Gold eased for a second day on Tuesday, along with losses in other commodities as worries over the euro zone's handling of its debt crisis knocked the euro to a two-month low against the dollar.

There was some respite for the single currency and European assets in midday trading after a report that Germany wants to bundle aid for Greece into a single payment.

But signs of a dispute between European officials and the International Monetary Fund on Athens' latest aid payment kept the euro near lows. A higher dollar makes gold more expensive to buy in other currencies.

By 1457 GMT, gold was down 0.15 percent to $1,725.15 an ounce, while U.S. gold futures for December had lost $5.70 an ounce to $1,725.20.

Physical demand for gold also is likely to ease off in India following the Diwali festival, Afshin Nabavi, head of trading at MKS Finance, said.

"When the Diwali buying is out of the way, I would be surprised if buyers came back to the same extent as before the festival," he added.

A weakening rupee against the dollar has combined with an increased gold import duty to drag down Indian purchases.

Nabavi said he expected gold to remain in its current range of around $1,715-1,735 in the near term.

In the longer term, traders said gold may benefit from uncertainty over the looming U.S. "fiscal cliff", which could force nearly $600 billion worth of spending cuts and tax increases at the end of this year, pushing the U.S. economy back into recession.

The precious metal hit a record $1,920.30 an ounce last September when negotiations between Democrats and Republicans over the raising of the U.S. debt ceiling turned sour.

Signs that negotiations may be more constructive this time around, however, are starting to dampen some interest in one of the assets investors favour as a safe haven in difficult economic times. Gains earlier this month were largely due to expectations that talks would be protracted and tense.

"Gold's rally may be starting to show signs of topping out, as investors seem to be discounting the possibility of a fiscal cliff deal being reached," INTL FCStone said in a note.

"However, we still have a long way to go before all the sides agree, which means that we could see further gains in the precious metals space before a more concerted sell-off sets in, likely by early December."

Jon Bergteil, an analyst with Citibank, said, "If the two U.S. political parties cannot compromise on the impending 'fiscal cliff' challenges, the dollar is likely to weaken and hence give gold a short-term boost."

COOLING

Delegates at this year's London Bullion Market Association conference in Hong Kong, who forecast gold prices would be around $1,843 by the time of next year's meeting, have adopted a softer tone towards gold than in previous years.

"This year I sensed that the bullishness has moderated and there is less conviction," Tom Kendall, head of precious metals research at Credit Suisse, told Reuters at the event.

Growth in Chinese demand for gold, which surged in the last five years to put China ahead of India as the world's largest consumer, has shown signs of cooling this year.

Gold demand in India has been forecast to fall by up to 45 percent this year on the back of rupee weakness, high prices and a hike in import duties but is set to recover in 2013, industry officials said at the meeting.

Among other precious metals, silver was up 0.49 percent at $32.55 an ounce. Spot platinum was up 1.44 percent at $1,582.74 an ounce, while palladium was up 3.68 percent at $627.22 an ounce.

Supply outages in South Africa are set to push the platinum market into deficit this year as shipments from the world's main producer of the metal fall by 605,000 ounces, refiner Johnson Matthey said on Tuesday.

Chinese platinum jewellery demand was forecast to jump in 2012 as Hong Kong retailers add outlets, while palladium jewellery demand was expected to fall by a fifth in China.

But pent-up demand for new vehicles and cheap car financing rates is likely to result in increased use of palladium in North American autocatalyst production this year.

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