LONDON Gold steadied after touching a new three-month high on Tuesday, still supported as global growth concerns and a further drop in the oil price pushed investors towards safe-haven assets.
Weak Chinese manufacturing data on Monday underscored the challenges for the world economy and volatility in oil and other assets is supporting gold, typically a haven from market turmoil.
"In the near term gold is finding some support in the dovish tone from central banks last week, notably the Fed and the Bank of Japan," said Jens Pedersen, senior analyst at Danske Bank.
The Bank of Japan's decision last week to introduce negative interest rates helped lift the precious metal and it could see more gains as some central banks may be forced into easing monetary policy further this year to spur growth.
Spot gold XAU= touched $1,130.11 an ounce, its strongest since Nov. 3, and then pulled back slightly to trade down 0.4 percent at $1,124.31 by 1221 GMT.
A break above $1,136 could lift gold towards $1,157, a level reached in late October, ScotiaMocatta technical analysts said.
U.S. gold for April delivery GCcv1 was off 0.2 percent at $1,126 an ounce.
Gold is typically the asset of choice in times of uncertainty. It posted its best monthly jump in a year in January, and has gained 6 percent so far in 2016, after falling 10.4 percent last year.
The Federal Reserve's statement after its policy meeting last week that it will closely monitor the global economy and financial markets lifted gold, as it underlined expectations that U.S. policymakers may take it slow in raising interest rates this year.
But the upside for gold has been limited however as the Fed still kept the door open for a rate hike in March. The opportunity cost of holding gold rises in a higher interest rate environment.
Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said on Monday the U.S. economy could suffer if recent volatility in financial markets persists and signals a slowdown in the global economy.
"If the Fed had somehow closed the door on March due to the turmoil we could have seen gold shoot higher," Pedersen said.
Reflecting growing confidence in gold, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust (GLD), the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose to 21.9 million ounces on Monday, the most since Nov. 3. [GOL/ETF]
With interest rates close to zero, the "only option is to move either towards zero or negative rates as the Japanese and selected European countries are already doing in a desperate attempt to force banks to lend", INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir wrote to clients.
"Whatever the case, this should be constructive for gold."
Spot platinum XPT= fell 1 percent to $861.09 an ounce, palladium XPD= also slipped 0.5 percent to $497.95 and silver XAG= dropped 0.3 percent to $14.27.
(Additional reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr. in Manila, editing by David Evans and Susan Thomas)