LONDON Gold eased on Monday, weighed by weaker shares as investors focused on prospects for aid for Greece and as speculators booked profits after prices rallied to their highest in more than a month in the previous session.
Speculators also turned their attention to negotiations between the White House and Congress this week to avoid the U.S. "fiscal cliff", a series of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts worth $600 billion set for January, which could tip the economy back into recession.
Gold fell as European shares and the euro edged lower as investors nervously awaited the outcome of the latest round of talks to provide emergency loans to keep Greece financially afloat.
"It's a 'risk-off' day. Stock markets are trading lower, we have a firmer dollar, and investors are seeking safe havens such as government bond markets," said Peter Fertig, consultant with Quantitative Commodity Research.
Gold XAU= fell $4.98 an ounce to $1,747.41 by 1118 GMT after rising to $1,754.10 on Friday, its strongest since October 12.
U.S. gold for December fell $3.60 an ounce to $1,747.80.
Gold has gained around 11 percent this year, mainly due to expectations U.S. monetary policy will remain loose.
Christin Tuxen, analyst with Danske Bank, said some investors had booked profits in gold after its rally on Friday.
"There is some profit taking in gold today. It is a small move lower today compared to the rise on Friday," she said.
Euro zone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund will seek to unfreeze the second bailout package for Greece on Monday, but they first need to agree if some of the official loans to Athens might eventually be forgiven to cut Greek debt.
Referring to efforts to aid Greece, brokerage Marex Spectron said in a daily market report: "If they cannot resolve this, the euro may well be sold, which in turn will probably drag gold lower with it."
The euro retreated from a seven-month high against the yen on Monday as traders booked profits on its recent rally, although expectations that Greece will secure new emergency loans would check losses.
A weaker euro makes dollar-priced gold more expensive to buy.
Cautious investors are awaiting Tuesday's survey of U.S. consumer confidence in November, which could offer clues as to whether the nervousness over the U.S. fiscal crisis is dampening spirits.
U.S. lawmakers have made little progress in the past 10 days towards a compromise to avoid the harsh tax increases and government spending cuts scheduled for January 1, a senior Democratic senator said on Sunday.
GRAPHIC-2012 asset returns: link.reuters.com/muc46s
GRAPHIC-2012 commod returns: link.reuters.com/faz36s
GRAPHIC-Gold/USD correlation: r.reuters.com/ryx52s
GRAPHIC-Gold/silver ratio: r.reuters.com/xyx52s
Spot gold is expected to range between $1,746 and $1,755 per ounce for one or two trading sessions before rising above this range, according to Reuters market analyst Wang Tao.
Gold importers in India, the world's biggest buyer of the metal, refrained from buying new stock for the wedding season as prices rebounded to near their peak on a weaker rupee.
Analysts and traders had expected demand to strengthen during the holiday season in the last quarter of the year, with top consumers India and China, which between them account for nearly half of global gold demand, leading the way.
Silver was down 0.23 percent at $34.02 an ounce.
Spot platinum was down 0.49 percent at $1,606.74 an ounce, while spot palladium was down 0.57 percent at $658.2 an ounce.
(Reporting by David Brough; editing by Keiron Henderson)