PRECIOUS-Gold eases on Wall St rally, bright US trade data
* US trade gap narrows in 4th-qtr, seen positive * Gold ends week almost flat * Platinum investors take profits after spec rally * Coming up: U.S. Jan. federal budget Tuesday (New updates throughout, changes byline, dateline, previously LONDON) By Frank Tang NEW YORK, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Gold fell on Friday as gains in U.S. equities and economic optimism after encouraging international trade data prompted bullion investors to reduce their bullish bets. Bullion fell after U.S. data showed the economy likely expanded slightly in the fourth quarter as higher exports and a slump in oil imports narrowed the trade gap, suggesting a surprise drop in economic output reported last week was overstated. The metal was also pressured by overnight Chinese export and import figures, which pointed to robust domestic demand and a pickup in the economy. Signs of a heated Chinese economy could force the country's central bank to tighten its monetary policy. Gold was nearly unchanged for the week, while U.S. equities, as measured by the S&P, were up 0.3 percent after better U.S. manufacturing data earlier this week. Renewed economic fears over the euro zone and the Bank of Japan's recent effort to weaken the yen, however, could boost gold buying, traders said. "The biggest factor to watch out for gold is the possible economic degradation of Europe and Japan. Gold may once again benefit as safe haven because of worries of currency devaluation," said Zachary Oxman, managing director of brokerage TrendMax. Spot gold was down 0.2 percent at $1,668.11 by 3:36 p.m. EST (2036 GMT). U.S. gold futures for April delivery settled down $4.40 at $1,666.90 an ounce, with trading volume almost 50 percent below its 250-day average, preliminary data showed. Gold inched up less than 0.1 percent for the week after its Thursday drop as European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said that economic activity in the euro area should gradually recover later in 2013 but there are more negative risks than positive ones. Spot silver fell 0.1 percent to $31.42 an ounce. ETF HOLDINGS UP Resilient physical demand, which lifted gold prices in early January, could underpin precious metals in the near term. SPDR Gold Trust, the largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund (ETF), saw its first inflow since mid-January in the previous session, rising a modest 1.8 tonnes. However, its holdings are down nearly 21 tonnes this year. Holdings in the iShares Silver Trust were up 25.6 tonnes on Thursday, bringing its total inflow for the week to 67.86 tonnes. So far this year, its holdings were up 361.42 tonnes. Platinum fell after rallying earlier this week to its highest price in more than a year and a half, as speculative investors started to take profits. Spot platinum fell 0.1 percent to $1,713.24 an ounce, after rising as high as $1,740 earlier this week. Palladium was up 0.4 percent at $751.22. It touched its highest since September 2011 at $769.50 an ounce on Wednesday. Analysts said fundamentals appear strong for platinum group metals, used in auto catalysts and jewelry, due to a more positive economic outlook, mining disruptions in South Africa and a drop in palladium output from Russia. 3:36 PM EST LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL US Gold APR 1666.90 -4.40 -0.3 1665.80 1674.30 88,726 US Silver MAR 31.441 0.038 0.1 31.330 31.695 34,173 US Plat APR 1714.70 -7.60 -0.4 1707.50 1734.00 11,222 US Pall MAR 751.50 1.05 0.1 740.25 758.45 5,568 Gold 1668.11 -2.58 -0.2 1665.75 1673.30 Silver 31.420 -0.020 -0.1 31.360 31.670 Platinum 1713.24 -2.50 -0.1 1709.50 1728.74 Palladium 751.22 3.25 0.4 743.75 756.50 TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG US Gold 95,511 180,140 172,544 13.42 -0.21 US Silver 43,544 45,814 51,737 20.67 0.24 US Platinum 11,448 17,478 11,053 17.21 0.00 US Palladium 6,399 4,640 4,742 (Additional reporting by Clara Denina in London; editing by Jim Marshall)
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DAVOS, Switzerland - Central banks have done their best to rescue the world economy by printing money and politicians must now act fast to enact structural reforms and pro-investment policies to boost growth, central bankers said on Saturday.
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