PRECIOUS-Gold ticks higher, on track for 12th annual gain

Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:44pm IST

* Targets $1,397-$1,447 range in 3
mths-technicals 
    * Coming Up: Dallas Fed Texas manufacturing index; 1530 GMT

 (Updates prices)
    By Lewa Pardomuan
    SINGAPORE, Dec 31 (Reuters) - Gold ticked up to around
$1,663 an ounce on Monday and was on track for a twelfth
straight annual gain, although wary investors stayed on the
sidelines as last-ditch attempts to resolve a U.S. fiscal crisis
seemed to be getting nowhere.
    Lawmakers pushed the United States to the edge of the
"fiscal cliff" as they struggled to reach a last-minute deal
that could prevent the world's largest economy from plunging
into recession. After adjourning for the day, the Senate will
reconvene at 1600 GMT on Monday. 
    "Maybe a bit of cooling off is good. Well, they have a few
hours to sort themselves," said CIMB regional economist Song
Seng Wun. "I think Asian equities are probably, at this moment,
positioning themselves for a possibility that there may not a be
last minute compromise of sorts."    
    Gold added $8.79 an ounce to $1,663.69 by 0656 GMT.
It is up around 6 percent for the year, heading for a 12th
straight year of gains on rock-bottom interest rates, concerns
over the financial stability of the euro zone, and
diversification into bullion by central banks.
    A failure to clinch a deal may spur safe-haven buying of
gold, but since many investors have both equities and gold in
their portfolios, the metal may also track stock markets higher
if the White House and Congress reach an agreement.
    U.S. gold for February rose $8.60 an ounce to
$1,664.50.
    Market holidays were in force in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan,
Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam, with half-day
trading in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.
     Several major Asian stock indexes closed on Monday with the
strongest annual gains in years, but investors feared the equity
market could change course because of the lack progress in talks
to avert the looming U.S. "fiscal cliff". 
    "I have nothing to share today. I guess the market in the
Middle East will still be trading a little bit. But that's about
it," said a physical gold dealer in Singapore. 
    "Premiums are unchanged at $1 to $1.20." 
    
    The euro slipped 0.16 percent to $1.319, hovering
below an 8-month high of $1.33085 hit on Dec. 19. 
     An agreement on the U.S. budget would be viewed as a
positive for riskier currencies such as the euro and Australian
dollar, while a deadlock would be deemed positive for the
safe-haven and highly liquid dollar. 
    A softer dollar boosts commodities priced in the greenback
by making them cheaper for holders of other currencies.
    "There's nothing at all in Asia. It's very quiet. We don't
expect surprises until the talks resume," said a dealer in
Singapore. 
    Buoyed by his re-election in November, President Barack
Obama has insisted that any deal must include a tax increase on
the wealthiest Americans, who have seen their earnings rise
steadily over the past decade at a time when income for the less
affluent has stalled.
   
  Precious metals prices 0656 GMT
  Metal             Last    Change  Pct chg  YTD pct chg    Volume
  Spot Gold        1663.69    8.79   +0.53      6.39
  Spot Silver        30.19    0.19   +0.63      9.03
  Spot Platinum    1522.50    4.51   +0.30      9.30
  Spot Palladium    698.00    3.00   +0.43      6.97
  COMEX GOLD FEB3  1664.50    8.60   +0.52      6.24         8268
  COMEX SILVER MAR3  30.23    0.25   +0.85      8.29         2458
  Euro/Dollar       1.3189
  Dollar/Yen         86.05
 
 (Editing by Himani Sarkar)
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