LONDON (Reuters) - Gold prices firmed on Tuesday as solid lending data helped the euro rebound against the dollar ahead of a European Central Bank meeting this week, which is expected to clarify the outlook for monetary policy.
The metal remained rangebound, however, on uncertainty over the timing of the first rise in U.S. interest rates in nearly a decade. A hike would weigh on gold, as it would raise the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.
Spot gold was up 0.4 percent at $1,175.48 an ounce at 1135 GMT, while U.S. gold futures for December delivery were up $3.20 an ounce at $1,176.00.
Gold touched a 3-1/2-month high last week on bets the Federal Reserve would not raise U.S. rates amid concerns about the global economy. But the rally lost steam as gold failed to break past the key $1,200 level.
“What’s changed between July and today is that a Fed hike for 2015 has now been written off,” ING analyst Hamza Khan said. “What’s preventing us from moving much above or below $1,170 is that we still don’t know whether the rate hike is going to be in early 2016 or late 2016, or how big it’s going to be.”
“Until we find out, it’s going to be difficult to see a sustained sell-off or a sustained rally in gold.”
In the near term, gold was being influenced by fluctuations in the dollar, in which it is priced. The U.S. currency fell 0.5 percent against the euro on Tuesday after quarterly lending data from the ECB showed euro zone banks had loosened their lending standards more than expected over the last few months. [FRX/]
The euro was also lifted by remarks from ECB Governing Council member Christian Noyer late on Monday that no adjustment was needed in the bank’s quantitative easing programme. The ECB started buying 60 billion euros ($68 billion) of assets a month in March to stave off deflation.
Investor appetite for gold showed signs of building on Monday, as the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, New York-listed SPDR Gold Shares, reported a 3.6-tonne rise in its holdings. [GOL/ETF]
Switzerland’s gold exports to China and Hong Kong combined last month hit their highest in more than a year and a half, data from the Swiss customs bureau showed, though exports to India fell by two-thirds.
Silver was up 0.3 percent at $15.86 an ounce, while platinum was up 0.2 percent at $1,011.25 an ounce and palladium was up 0.4 percent at $684.95 an ounce.
($1 = 0.8790 euros)
Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; Editing by Mark Potter and Dale Hudson