* Physical offtake light, Indian buyers cautious
* Jitters over Spanish debt sale hurts buying sentiment
* Coming up: GFMS World Silver Survey on Wednesday
(Rewrites, updates with comment, market activity, adds New York
dateline, changes byline)
By Frank Tang and Jan Harvey
NEW YORK/LONDON, April 18 Gold fell on Wednesday
for a fourth session, its longest losing streak this year, as
lackluster physical demand from major Asian consumers and weak
crude oil prices sent prices lower in quiet trade.
The metal, which has tended to follow equities and riskier
assets, again came under pressure as U.S. equities retreated on
disappointing earnings from several bellwether companies.
Investor interest has appeared to wane as volume in U.S.
gold futures was on track to be one of the lowest this year.
Bullion has lost over 2 percent during its four-day decline
brought about by renewed European debt jitters.
Spot gold was down 0.6 percent at $1,639.81 an ounce
by 2:36 p.m. EDT (1836 GMT).
U.S. gold futures for June delivery settled down
$11.50 at $1,639.60 an ounce. Volume was less than 100,000 lots,
set to be one of the quietest sessions this year, preliminary
Reuters data showed.
Analysts had expected the metal to regain momentum after the
end of a 22-day jewelers' strike in India, the world's largest
"The lack of physical demand in Asia was an issue. We
haven't seen India come back heavily after the end of the
jeweler strike. And volume was low so it doesn't take a great
deal of selling to move the market," said James Steel, chief
commodity analyst at HSBC.
Lingering concerns about Spain's finances added to the
cautious tone for gold and other markets. Spain paid a stiff
premium at Tuesday's debt auction compared to a month before,
boding ill for Thursday's long-term debt sale.
While gold rose in 2011 in times of elevated risk aversion,
it has since reverted to trading in line with other commodities
and against the U.S. dollar, which is now the safe haven of
choice. Oil futures fell on higher than forecast U.S. crude
inventories, which posted the biggest four-week rise in more
than three years.
Bullion has also fluctuated along with expectations for U.S.
monetary policy, with fading hopes of a fresh round of
asset-buying known as quantitative easing (QE), which would keep
the interest rate and the cost of holding the metal down.
All eyes are on next week's meeting of the policy-setting
Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which will be closely
scrutinized for any hints of a third round of QE.
Precious metals investors now await the findings of World
Silver Survey 2012 to be released by respected metals research
firm Thomson Reuters GFMS later on Wednesday.
Silver was down 0.3 percent at $31.58.
Spot platinum edged down 0.2 percent on the day at
$1,574.69 an ounce, while palladium inched up 0.2 percent
2:36 PM EDT LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT
SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL
US Gold JUN 1639.60 -11.50 -0.7 1638.10 1655.20 94,202
US Silver MAY 31.487 -0.187 -0.6 31.340 31.885 32,521
US Plat JUL 1579.20 -5.50 -0.3 1575.60 1595.30 4,767
US Pall JUN 657.25 -4.70 -0.7 656.50 665.00 1,683
Gold 1639.81 -9.17 -0.6 1638.48 1654.05
Silver 31.580 -0.090 -0.3 31.390 31.880
Platinum 1574.69 -2.44 -0.2 1577.68 1589.74
Palladium 655.95 -1.45 -0.2 658.27 663.00
TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY
CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG
US Gold 98,885 196,411 197,139 18.19 1.09
US Silver 40,649 51,913 60,471 27.93 -0.15
US Platinum 4,827 10,201 8,412 19.92 0.05
US Palladium 1,697 3,583 4,685
(Additional reporting by Jan Harvey in London and Rujun Shen in
Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy)