Gold steady ahead of possible Greek bailout deal

SINGAPORE Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:31pm IST

A Muslim pilgrim looks at a jewellery shop a prayer session at the surrounding area of the Grand Mosque during the annual hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca October 20, 2012. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

A Muslim pilgrim looks at a jewellery shop a prayer session at the surrounding area of the Grand Mosque during the annual hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca October 20, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Gold traded in a $5 range on Thursday, supported by central bank purchases and a weaker dollar as European leaders raised the possibility that a bailout deal for Greece was imminent.

Gold, up nearly 11 percent this year on the back of U.S. monetary easing measures to stimulate its economy, has been hovering around $1,730 for most of this week as investors focus on whether the United States will avoid a fiscal crisis.

But expectations of a looming Greek deal with lenders dented the dollar against the euro and aided gold prices. News that Brazil, Kazakhstan and Turkey had all increased their gold holdings also supported sentiment.

The euro rose to a two-week high versus the greenback after news of the possible Greek bailout, making dollar-priced commodities, such as gold, more attractive to buyers using euro and other currencies.

"The market is lacking direction right now and investors have become increasingly cautious," said Chen Min, an analyst at Jinrui Futures in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.

"The sentiment is mainly supported by concerns about the U.S. 'fiscal cliff', which offsets the easing of geopolitical tension in the Middle East which should have dented gold's safe-haven appeal."

Spot gold was little changed at $1,730.10 an ounce by 0739 GMT.

U.S. gold inched up 0.1 percent to $1,730.10.

The "fiscal cliff" refers to a $600 billion tax hike and spending cuts that are due to roll in early next year in the U.S., if Congress fails to reach an agreement to avert it, possibly sparking a recession.

In the Middle East, Israel and the Islamist Hamas movement ruling the Gaza Strip agreed on Wednesday to an Egyptian-sponsored ceasefire to halt an eight-day conflict that killed 162 Palestinians and five Israelis.

Technical analysis suggested that spot gold is poised to break resistance at $1,734 per ounce and rise more towards $1,749 during the day, said Reuters market analyst Wang Tao.

SILVER HITS ONE-MONTH HIGH

Spot silver rose to $33.43 an ounce, its highest in more than a month, before easing slightly to $33.31.

Silver has risen more than 20 percent so far this year, leading precious metals and dwarfing gold's gains.

Silver usually tracks moves in gold, but can also be influenced by riskier assets due to its industrial nature.

"It's driven by technicals, and gold's resilience is also supportive," said a Singapore-based trader.

Technical support could push the metal to $37.53 in the next four weeks, said Reuters' Wang.

(Editing by Miral Fahmy and Joseph Radford)

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