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Gold slips from three-week high as strong equities offset safe-haven buying

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Tue, Apr 15, 2014 07:24 hrs
Gold

Gold retreated on Tuesday from a three-week high as gains in equities and strong U.S. retail sales data offset safe-haven bids that were driven by heightened tensions in Ukraine.

U.S. retail sales recorded in March their largest gain in 1-1/2 years in a decisive sign the economy is bouncing back from its weather-induced slumber, boosting equities that have been under pressure recently.

Growing optimism about the U.S. economy has been one of the factors in gold's decline over the last year, as funds pulled money out of bullion to invest in stocks.

But increasing geopolitical tensions between the West and Russia this year over Ukraine, along with concerns about the Chinese economy, has sparked demand for gold in recent weeks. The metal is up 10 percent for the year.

"Prices are still plagued by bearishness if not for safe- haven speculation due to Ukraine," said Joyce Liu, analyst at Phillip Futures.

Spot gold fell 0.4 percent to $1,321.20 an ounce by 0306 GMT. It hit a 3-week high of $1,330.90 on Monday.

"We expect prices to be biased for the downside today, barring military action in Ukraine, with the first level of support at $1,315 and subsequent support at $1,300," said Liu.

In Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists ignored an ultimatum to leave occupied government buildings in eastern Ukraine and instead seized more buildings as the government failed to follow through on a threatened military crackdown.

Some traders warned that the gains from safe-haven bids could quickly dissipate when the Ukraine crisis is resolved.

"We have seen fund outflows recently despite Ukraine, and physical demand from China has been quiet for more than a month. Which makes me think the price gains are not going to last," said a trader in Hong Kong.

SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund and a good measure of investor sentiment, said its holdings rose 1.80 tonnes to 806.22 tonnes on Monday - the first increase since March 24.

Physical demand in top consumer China remained weak with Shanghai prices trading at a discount of about $1 an ounce to spot prices.

Among other precious metals, palladium fell after five straight days of gains though it continued to hold near its highest since August 2011 on fears that U.S. sanctions on No.1 producer Russia would curb supply, and on prolonged mine strikes in South Africa.


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