* 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
By Frank Tang
NEW YORK, Feb 8 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
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
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
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
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
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
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